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Talking Jersey

You are in: Jersey > My Island > Talking Jersey > 'Jersey needs population growth'

Shoppers on a busy street

Does Jersey need a bigger population?

'Jersey needs population growth'

Deputy Andrew Lewis believes that controlled population growth is "essential" as Jersey faces an increasing ageing population in the future.

"Controlled growth at quite low levels is not so much desirable but essential."

Deputy Andrew Lewis

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.

Woman caring for elderly relative

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
created: 15/01/2008

Have Your Say

The BBC reserves the right to edit comments submitted.

Gary Bell
Anyone who believes that an ever increasing population is the answer to any problem is living in Cloud Cuckoo Land (not Jersey). The plain fact is that there are more people around the next year than there are today - always... other than when there's some large scale global war.Does anyone really think that's good?

This may appear far-fetched, but would it be possible for the States to introduce a work scheme for low-grade prisoners?The above scheme would allow prisoners to exchange work days for prison days on a daily release basis, allowing them to reduce their sentences; for instance, a prisoner could have a sentence reduced by a week for every 7 work days.This would, I believe, reduce the need to import as many low-grade foreign workers, which would help to slightly mitigate pressure on local resources.Is the idea too far-fetched?Perhaps not - the States were considering a reparative justice scheme, whereby criminals would have to compensate their victims. Why not adopt the same philosophy and make them compensate society by putting them to work? I reiterate that the scheme would only be applicable to low-grade prisoners - I would feel a lot safer having non-English speaking Eastern Europeans working a field next to my home than a convicted murderer.

dave manchester
Hi- we went to Jersey for 2 weeks in August - great place and very wealthy - its changed since we last came in the early 90's. We have 3 kids and could happily live and contribute in Jersey, but its too expensive and the house buying rules are archaic in contrast to the European Community which allows free movement of people and the right to buy property. You cant all look after yourselves when you are elderly and there are no carers etc...Still, I prefer England and will stay to walk the Lakes and the Yorkshire Dales as I grow older

H HOrse
But we have been allowing thousands of people in for years, think of all that council housing that has been built to house them. Now they are proposing to bring in more people to pay for the people who were allowed in before? Madness

My son works in Jersey and is likely to remain there until he gains his financial qualification. At that point I anticipate he will look to return to England to give him more flexibility in the property market. Jersey is certainly a beautiful beautiful island and a wonderful location to live and work, but current housing qualifications do not encourage longer term residency.

'Maybe you should try making your own sandwiches for work and avoiding Mange Tout?Please either stop moaning or go back to the UK.'

Hey I'd go back - as long as you take all the islanders in the UK back. Oh sorry you don't have the jobs here do you!

B Smith
'What about the hospital already people have to wait 3 months for an MRI scan or pay 650.'

Ignorance is bliss isn't it sometimes. You obviously don't realise that foreign workers are keeping the hostpital running!

punching above our weight
Jersey is becoming its own worst enemy due to greed

P Lee
Has the deputy considered the world financial situation. The US and UK are heading for recesssion and Jersey will follow. With the credit crunch in banking are people going to be able to borrow as much money as they have been used to - if not this will slow the Jersey economy and reduce the price of houses (good).The island is grossly overpopulated. What about the hospital already people have to wait 3 months for an MRI scan or pay 650. How is an increased population going to improve this - what about the schools, let alone the rubbish produced that we currently cannot deal with.A very stupid suggestion, the sooner he is voted out of office the better.

P Lee
No we do not need any more people in this over populated island. We have had thousands come in over the past few years. One big mistake is allowing the production of low paid jobs, such as stuffing DVDs into envelopes. Fine if these jobs are filled by locals, but how many recent immigrants are doing these low paid jobs. Low people pay little tax and anything they pay is totally wiped out upon production of the first child and then they whining for states housing - such people are a total drain on the island - that is why we are in the state we are in today.No Deputy - fewer people - no more.

Tracy Mathieson
I lived in Jersey for 6 years, my husband and I were married there. I worked as Trust Administrator for a large organisation and he held a senior position in banking. We found it a constant struggle trying to find reasonable accomodation and as a result moved back to Scotland. We now have two children, age 4 and 20 months. My 4 year old starts school later this year and it would be lovely if it could be in Jersey, however, as we now have two children and a dog, finding suitable accomodation would be impossible. I am amazed when I read articles such as this, The States of Jersey want to have their cake and eat it. They are now concerned about an ageing population, they want to encorage young families to come to the island, but seem unwilling to relax their housing regulations. My husband is at such a level in the finance industry where a J-Cat would be applicable, and even the employers are reluctant to go down this route. When they can get a single person, who is happy to rent on the open market, why should they commit themselves to a family of four. Yes, we would LOVE to come back, we would love to bring our children up on your beautiful island, please make it possible for us come and buy a house, we can support ourselves, we have 200,000 equity in our house here, we can afford to buy a nice property, don't make us compromise our living acommodation just to be able to walk your lovely beaches and have our children enjoy Jersey life. please think of a solution, controlled imigration would help not only the ageing population but the employers as well, there are plenty of jobs available, we just need to be able to make a proper home in Jersey.

hear, hear.
Well said to '500 is more than enough'. People have choices. Dont expect others to compensate you for that choice!

500 is more than enough
If you can't afford to raise a child, close your legs! Why do you expect a grant to raise a family? A family is your responsibility, not the governments!If you're earning over 25k a year, you can afford a kid, thousands earning less do! Maybe you should try making your own sandwiches for work and avoiding Mange Tout?Please either stop moaning or go back to the UK.

It's all very well to say that more people is the solution - but what happens when all those migrants get old - we'll need even more people to come over and support them - it's a never ending spiral. I don't know what the solutoin is to this problem - but it's not as simple as more migrants - even if they are skilled.

Kelly Major
Increased control of migration is one of those awkward and controversial ideas. It encourages people from overseas to come to Jersey whilst leaving those who are born in Jersey left behind. If the States really want to assist in the ageing population how about they provide more varied employment for graduates so that we come back to Jersey to find work instead of going elsewhere. Jersey already has one of the highest population densities in the world, which is not a statistic to be proud of on a 9 by 5 island. So maybe more careful thought should be considered before striving to increase the population.

Nicolas Jouault
Deputy Lewis's comments show just how futile it is to participate in States consultation as he has already chosen his option without listening to what the public has to say. This epitomizes the mind set of our Ministers.The environment of the Island is being trashed to feed the so called "economic growth" that does little to benefit the man on the street. Amen

As a person who has come over to work and live in Jersey from the UK, I can tell you for certain the reason for the declining birth rate on this island

As a non local, have you seen what you get from the state for having you child born on the rock, and bringing it up over here? A grant of around 500...and thats it!

If you're earning over 25k a year you get very little in terms of child care allowance (about 2 a week)

There needs to be more support for single parents/people in relationships n living together/families over here!!

Two sides to ever story.
From an economic point of view, yes more people paying more taxes to subsidise those that cannot/will nort fend for themselves is essential. However, the Island cannot support an increase in population. We just dont have the space or resources to do so. Catch twenty two? Maybe. But the Island itself isnt going to get any bigger.

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