Plea for States help in finding homes for visiting workers

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REPRESENTATIVES from some of the Island’s biggest industries have penned an open letter to States Members urging them to support a proposition to provide temporary accommodation for visiting overseas workers.

The letter, which was written by Lee Madden from Gr8 Recruitment and has been signed by the Jersey Hospitality Association and the Jersey Care Commission, urges States Members to agree to Deputy Rowland Huelin’s proposals to identify appropriate sites in the Island and make them available for the provision of temporary accommodation to house between 200 and 500 temporary workers. The proposition is due to be debated by the States Assembly on 25 April.

Staffing issues could derail hospitality plans as businesses struggle to find accommodation for workers brought in from overseas to fill vacancies.

Figures released by the JHA earlier this year showed that there were at least 600 vacancies in hospitality, while businesses that had sourced foreign labour were searching for more than 400 beds for those due to arrive at the start of the season.

A number of short-term accommodation solutions have been discussed in recent months, including the idea of temporary accommodation villages or converting redundant office space.

Meanwhile, industry leaders within the care sector warned earlier this year that homes are almost full and facing a potential crisis due to staff shortages.

In the letter to States Members, Mr Madden says: ‘We have the tools to recruit and retain staff to backfill roles and to fill new and current roles with the work permit system, and we have the talent identified and ready to come. It is estimated that if fully explored these permits will attract and employ over 1,000 individuals in the next three years across numerous blue-collar sectors, fixing the problems and bringing in revenue to the Island.’

He adds that one of the problems was that former lodging houses and accommodation previously used to house visiting workers was being ‘bought by developers and turned into real estate’.

‘Such accommodation is out of the reach of being affordable to many of those workers, which means those who remain are unable to find accommodation, leading to more of the workers that support the blue-collar sector leaving the Island. This in turn is putting more pressure on businesses who may see an adverse effect on their business, with the real possibility of some having to cease trading,’ he says.

‘These workers will need somewhere to live, but they cannot affect the already stretched housing stock. It is very clear that 99% of these workers will never attain residency but they need to be provided with suitable accommodation to enable them to work and in turn support the Island,’ he adds.

Mr Madden says the solution ‘is not one for government but one for the private sector’.

‘It is worthy to note that by providing Jersey with the ability to create temporary staff accommodation, it will ease pressure on the already stretched housing stock and allow the collective to find the medium- and long-term solutions to essential and temporary accommodation issues,’ he says.

‘What is needed is the ability to implement these solutions and for government to stand and accept the problem and provide the machinery to the private sector to realise the solutions.

‘It means changing policy, adapting existing working practices, and instructing officers to work with the private sector to create short-term accommodation solutions while we as a community find the medium and long-term solutions.

‘This is a problem now and we the undersigned request that government accept that the issue of a temporary accommodation solution exists, that an immediate solution is needed and that our elected members provide the oil so that the machinery can move on to a workable solution without any delay.’

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