First Time Buyers – September debate 2015 Part 2

During the debate on my amendment to the Joint Housing/T&R policy letter on first time buyer schemes, and the previous debate on the strategic housing target, it was clear that members were not happy with the existing housing policy but did not want to commit to a scheme without evidence of exactly what was happening in the local housing market and what the best strategy would be. As a consequence, I put together, with Deputy Le Clerc, a replacement amendment that sought an independent broad-based review of the local housing market. I was delighted that the entire Assembly, bar those who had submitted the policy letter, supported the amendment.

Full details of my amendment and speech below;

Amendment:
To insert two new Propositions after Proposition 3 as follows:
 ‘4. To direct the Housing Department and the Treasury and Resources Department (and their successors) to carry out a broad-based review of the operation of the Local Housing Market in Guernsey and to identify and assess measures that can be taken to mitigate house price inflation and influence supply and demand within the market.
Such a review to be by way of an independent report, of which the terms of reference shall include, but not be restricted to:
a) A broad based review of the operation of the Local Housing Market in Guernsey including:
Identification and assessment of the factors which drive supply and demand, including the influence of population change and household size;
Identification and analysis of the factors influencing the prices of houses, including external influences (if any) and the first-time buyer market;
A review of private sector rental costs and their relationship to other sectors of the housing market.
b) A review of current housing finance mechanisms, including:
An assessment of how house purchases are financed by the ‘average’ household;
Mortgage lending policies;
An examination of ratios of house prices, in relation to borrowing capability;
The impact of the Guernsey Housing Association partial ownership scheme.
c) An assessment of the role of property prices and of the costs associated with property ownership on inflation
d) An appraisal of the various options available for Government intervention in the Housing Market including what effect the various measures may have on housing affordability and housing availability
 5. To direct the Housing Department and Treasury and Resources Department (and their successors) to report back to the States with their findings and recommendations in respect of Proposition 4, annexed to which is a copy of the independent report, referred to in that Proposition, no later than the end of July 2016.”

 

Sir, I apologise for laying this amendment so late, but frankly this did come out of debate, and I think it was an absolutely really riveting debate and listening to people’s comments. From that came out of it was people saying where is the evidence, ‘Well, we want to do one thing; we are not sure whether it is the right thing to do,’ and I think Deputies, Harwood, Brehaut, Le Lièvre, Fallaize if not more, made those points. I think Deputy Le Lièvre used the phrase ‘scrabbling around’. I think he is correct.

The reason why Deputy Le Clerc and myself laid the original amendment was because we wanted to make sure that things did not just end with the Report that was put in front of us today. We felt that if that just went and things would be as they were and we are in real danger of a position where we did not know what the right thing was but were pursuing a course of action which basically dates back over 13 years, and that takes me to what this amendment is. This amendment is really what they call, and Deputy Dorey mentioned it today, the Parr Report, which was commissioned in 2002 by both Housing and what was Advisory & Finance, so hence my amendment here is Housing Department and T&R Department on the operation of the housing market in Guernsey. A report to the States of Guernsey Housing Authority and Advisory & Finance Committee.

What we have done within this amendment is to take Annex 1 of that original report. Annex 1 sets out the terms of reference, and we have taken that and applied that to this current amendment, sir, to the Report that we want here today. I just think we need something where we have evidence, that is what I say, I stand up here so many times and say we need evidence on which to make proper policy decisions, and at the moment we really do know that. We do not know where the rental market is at the moment. Deputy Dorey said he thinks one thing, we have got other people who think something else. People say their sons and daughters cannot get on the housing market, whereas other people say well that is not the problem we have got the GHA that can sort that out. We really are in a… we do not know where we are. The situation we are in now is so very difference from 2002. We should be saying what is right for Guernsey now. What is right for the people of Guernsey so we have a housing market that works properly?

I urge Members to support this amendment.



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