Population drop is more worrying than increase, says Gorst

- Advertisement -

During a Scrutiny hearing yesterday, Senator Ian Gorst faced questions about the States’ new population policy. He said that Jersey was unusual for a small island in that its population was still growing.

Concerns had been raised by Deputy Kevin Lewis about projections which have indicated that Jersey’s population could exceed 122,000 by 2035, if growth continues at its present rate.

But in response, the Chief Minister suggested that the future growth of digital technology and automation, which could result in greater job scarcity, might lead to a population decline.

‘The issue I am concerned about is what effect machinery will have. We spent the 1980s and 90s worrying about population,’ said the Chief Minister.

‘But the position we are in now is we are worrying about population growth, while any other island of our size is worrying about population decline.

‘With what is going to happen with digital [technology] and machinery, we should be worrying about population decline and what answers we have for that.’

His remarks came during a hearing of the Corporate Services Scrutiny Panel, in which his team were pressed for details of a proposed population policy, which is due to be debated in March.

Assistant Chief Minister Paul Routier said that the three key policies of the plan would be:

*The introduction of time-limited work permits for migrant workers.

*New criminal record checks for those coming to the Island.

*The addition of photographs on registration cards.

Concerns have grown over the level of immigration seen in Jersey in recent years after net immigration reached 1,500 in 2015, with the population increasing by more than 16,000 since 2001.

Deputy Lewis, as well as panel members Deputies John Le Fondré and Simon Brée, asked the Chief Minister and his team whether they had a target number in mind either for a population cap or for annual net migration.

In response, Senator Routier said that they did not and that the government’s priority would be to make sure businesses continued to have access to people with the right skills.

‘It is our priority to have the appropriate skills in the Island to fulfil the needs of the business community,’ he said.

‘We consider that what has happened in the last few years is that it [immigration] has been too high, but we are trying to have fewer people.

‘But our priority is to make sure that we have the right people here.’

The hearing was also attended by panel member Senator Sarah Ferguson.

- Advertisement -
- Advertisement -
- Advertisement -

Latest Stories

- Advertisement -

UK News

- Advertisement -
- Advertisement -

Read the latest free supplements

Read the Town Crier, Le Rocher and a whole host of other subjects like mortgage advice, business, cycling, travel and property.