Chief Minister: ‘We can’t keep recruiting without more housing’

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THE government cannot keep recruiting staff when there is an acute shortage of housing, the Chief Minister has warned.

Instead, Deputy Kristina Moore said the public sector must increase productivity to ‘deliver value for money’.

She also claimed that Jersey risked losing talent and the ‘richness’ of its communities if adequate housing was not provided for workers and their families, as the Island tackles an urgent staff shortage across both the public and private sectors.

Speaking during yesterday’s Institute of Directors leaders’ lunch, the Chief Minister said that the former St Saviour’s Hospital was a site which could provide housing solutions for Islanders.

Last year, then-Chief Minister John Le Fondré revealed that more than 200 homes could be built at the site.

Deputy Moore confirmed that the development, along with other future builds, would see partnership and ‘technological innovation’ between Andium Homes, the Island’s affordable housing provider, and the Jersey Development Company.

‘This will begin with the construction project at St Saviour’s Hospital, which will focus not on luxury homes but on providing new, affordable homes, homes for key workers and those with complex needs in a beautiful environment,’ she said.

‘We are in a great place because we offer a wonderful environment in which to live, so we need to make sure we are offering housing solutions which are both affordable and with a good quality of life which we would expect people to enjoy here.’

She added that providing affordable homes, housing for key workers and prioritising developments under 3,000sq-ft were all steps being taken to retain Jersey’s workforce.

And discussing the Island’s staffing shortages, she said: ‘There must be a particular focus on recruitment and retention of staff in critical frontline services including education, children’s social care and healthcare.

‘Equally we recognise that we have to work out what we can simplify and stop doing as a government in order to be more productive.’

She added: ‘This isn’t about cutting numbers, because we recognise that in many areas there is more to do.

‘But we understand that we cannot carry on recruiting more people when there is such a demand for employees in the private sector and equally a shortage of housing for existing residents. Our focus will be on delivering value for money.’

In today’s Saturday’s Interview, Assistant Chief Minister Andy Jehan, a member of the States Employment Board, said that attracting and keeping hold of skilled staff across government departments was the greatest challenge facing the new board and that recruitment was now a key focus.

Deputy Moore added that the Island was facing a ‘skills shortage’ and remained at ‘risk of losing skills, talent, and the richness of our Island community’ unless adequate housing was provided.

She said that the government was looking into work permits for visiting staff and providing them with accommodation.

Staff shortages have plagued a number of industries in Jersey over the past 12 months including agriculture, hospitality and construction, with employers reporting that they have been unable to find accommodation for those due to move to the Island to work.

‘There has been a clear call from the industry to re-evaluate the short-term and temporary work permits and come up with longer-term solutions.

‘We are very alive to that and look forward to delivering different solutions in that area,’ she said.

‘We are also looking at minimum standards in temporary accommodation – delivering more housing is a medium- to long-term solution to our problems.

‘There is potential in that area to look at not putting people in windowless ghettos, as suggested by some of my predecessors, but in quality temporary accommodation,’ she said.

Deputy Moore said that the Environment Minister, Jonathan Renouf, was working on developing planning guidance to ‘give greater clarity on minimum standards for accommodation’.

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