In a briefing yesterday, Senator Steve Pallett, acting leader of The Progress Party, and party member Deputy Steve Luce provided an update on the direction the organisation had taken since it launched in January.
Outlining the party’s proposed housing policy, Deputy Luce said it was a ‘bold innovative plan’ to repurpose public-owned land and buildings, increase the supply and affordability of homes for lower-income families, and cap social-housing rents below 90% of the private market rate. He said within the first six months after the June 2022 election, the party would carry out a ‘comprehensive review’ of all public-owned property, and commission an expert to conduct a feasibility study on developing land to the east of Fort Regent and Pier Road car park.
Deputy Luce said they would seek ‘to cut down the planning barriers to residential construction’, and reduce ‘unnecessary red tape and costs’.
He also suggested a stamp duty reduction and encouraging the development of multi-generational homes.
Introducing the party’s population aims, Senator Pallett said Islanders accepted that current rates of migration to the Island were ‘unacceptable and unsustainable’, but the issue was ‘complex’ and required ‘innovative solutions’.
He said they would introduce a ‘strategic analysis process to understand the needs of the economy’ and respond to business.
Senator Pallett also advocated a points-based migration system, where a person’s eligibility to work in the Island would be dependent on whether they scored above a threshold of points, based on economic need and industry specific requirements.
‘For us it needs to be more defined and targeted a new points system,’ he said. Employers would be encouraged to ‘train local’ and factor in succession policies, he added.
Asked by the JEP how an influx of Progress Members would change the States, Deputy Luce said: ‘The Progress Party want to just get things done.
‘I am massively frustrated with the speed of anything that has happened with this government.’
Deputy Luce added that there were too many consultations and reviews, and a lack of action.
Senator Pallett said people felt let down by politicians and he was ‘partly to blame’ as a former minister in the current government, but he planned to ‘move on and make decisions’ as part of Progress.
Further policies on children, education and other areas would be announced soon, the politicians said, and a detailed manifesto would be published six to eight weeks before the election. The only other party that has announced it will put forward candidates at the next election is Reform Jersey, led by Senator Sam Mézec.
Senator Pallett said that Progress had around 100 members, a similar number to three months ago. He said there were problems opening a bank account for the party, which had impacted on their ability to ask for subscriptions.
The party had also been approached by a handful of candidates, with Senator Pallett saying it was their intention to stand a candidate in every district. The Senator, whose role will be removed at the next election, said his preferred choice would be to stand as a Deputy in St Brelade, where he lives, although he added that would be up to the party and its selection process.
On funding their policies, Deputy Luce said: ‘Now would not be the right time to put up tax.’
Instead, he said the government may need to run a deficit for a couple of years, and additional money would be needed to recover from Covid and Brexit.