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Does Jersey need a bigger population?
'Jersey needs population growth'
By Claire Peters
Deputy Andrew Lewis believes that controlled population growth is "essential" as Jersey faces an increasing ageing population in the future.
Jersey needs to increase its population according to a local deputy.
Deputy Andrew Lewis has been responding to the issues thrown up by the Imagine Jersey 2035 consultation process.
The consultation, launched last year, asked islanders how they thought Jersey should cope with an ageing population.
With a declining birth rate and a bigger projected number of people being retired by 2035 inviting more young people to the island is a possible solution.
More skilled migrants
The Deputy of St John believes that increasing the population with skilled migrants is essential to cope with both the extra elderly and to continue the island’s economic growth.
“If we want Jersey to survive as a vibrant society…then controlled growth at quite low levels is not so much desirable but essential.”
He has also suggested that any problems as a result of an increased population are exaggerated.
Jersey will need to support more elderly in 2035
Getting the balance right
“I was not advocating uncontrolled growth,” the deputy told BBC Jersey in response to negative feedback from some islanders.
“It is important to try and work out what the optimum number of people required to keep the economy on track without having too much impact on the environment.”
He explained that contrary to the beliefs of some Jersey is currently “far from being over-populated”.
No more is not the answer
Deputy Lewis also explained that if all inward migration was stopped, as some residents have called for, then the population would fall and there would not be enough workers contributing taxes to sustain public services.
According to the deputy this would result in an increase in taxes, and a decline in the economy – which in turn would leave islanders leaving education with a job shortage.
“The important thing here is to find a balance,” he explained. “Zero population growth is not the answer. Having no controls would be a disaster too.”
Have your say heard
The States is holding a conference this Saturday at the Royal Yacht Hotel, where people can find out more about the issues and add their comments to the debate.
Do you think that controlled population growth is the way forward? Perhaps you’d rather see a population cap but increased taxes for the working population?
Are you concerned about the ageing population? How would you deal with the potential problems Jersey faces over the next 30 years?
last updated: 15/01/2008 at 12:37
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