Brexit fuelling rise in interest in Jersey from the super-rich

BREXIT and the pandemic are fuelling a surge in interest from multi-millionaires in moving to the Island – with Jersey this year set to record one of its highest numbers of new ‘high-value’ residents.

Picture: DAVID FERGUSON. (30990590)
Picture: DAVID FERGUSON. (30990590)

Fifteen applications from wealthy individuals were approved in the first five months of the year – equalling the target for the whole of 2021.

Four families have visited the Island this week to explore the potential for relocation.

And with about 23 applications being granted annually between 2016 and 2020, officials say the number of high-net-worth individuals moving to Jersey could be well above average this year.

The interest comes during a boom period for the housing market which recently saw a property in St Brelade sold for a record £31 million after two millionaires became embroiled in a bidding war.

Economic Development Minister Lyndon Farnham predicted a total for successful candidates ‘in the 20s’ by the end of the year. While stressing that there was no cap, he said the numbers were carefully managed.

‘We have to maintain a balance and are mindful of letting the number go too far, but whether we have 15 or 25 [successful applications] there is no indication that this does anything other than benefit the Island,’ he said.

‘I believe the uncertainty resulting from Brexit and the pandemic have been contributory factors – Jersey continues to be very stable economically and politically and an attractive place to live.’

Senator Farnham said the benefits to the Island went beyond the revenue achieved through income tax, stamp duty and business activities of wealthy immigrants.

‘There’s a quality over quantity issue here – if people are purely interested in relocating for financial reasons, there are other jurisdictions with lower tax rates where they could go,’ he said.

The minister added: ‘We want to attract people who want to be part of the community and will contribute to Island life through investing in local industry and philanthropic activities – those contributions may be less easy to measure than tax revenue, but they are very significant.’

Kevin Lemasney, head of high-value residency engagement for the Government of Jersey, said 2021 was likely to see the second-highest number of successful applications. 2017 was the busiest year on record, he said, with 34 applications granted as interest in moving to Jersey surged in the wake of the UK’s 2016 Brexit vote, the 2017 UK general election and the election of Donald Trump to the US Presidency the previous year.

Mr Lemasney recently told a meeting of the Economic and International Affairs Scrutiny Panel that while there was no strict upper limit on approvals, the target figure was 15 and there was an appreciation that Locate Jersey would work with ministers to combat the situation if the figure went above 20 and there was any indication the process might be ‘overheated’.

High-value residents are required to demonstrate assets of at least £10 million and income that is ‘comfortably and sustainably’ in excess of £725,000 – meaning each pays £145,000 in income tax at the standard rate of 20%. A total of 155 residents have made the move within the past ten years, the meeting heard.

Mr Lemasney said the threshold figures for assets and income were due to be reviewed every five years, with the next set of changes due to be brought in on 1 January 2023. Prior to that date, the minimum price figures for properties bought by high-value arrivals are set to increase later this year.

From 1 September, an apartment bought by a high-value resident must cost at least £1.25m – an increase from £900,000 – while there will be a minimum house price of £2.5m – previously £1.75m.

Asked by panel chairman David Johnson whether there might be further changes to increase the revenue received by the Island, Mr Lemasney said this was ultimately a matter for the States Assembly, but that Jersey already had quite an onerous application process and may not wish to lose ground to rival jurisdictions, notably Guernsey.

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