Jersey Community Relations Trust has released its report, ‘Poverty in Jersey’.
The report examines the financial hardships experienced by increasing numbers of Islanders and the growing poverty gap between its richest and poorest residents, specifically in relation to socioeconomic factors, the tax and benefits system and Jersey’s ‘social contract’.
Amongst other key findings, the report found that once housing costs are factored in, 21% of Jersey’s population are in households living in relative low income (£21,840 per year).
Importantly, the report raises concerns regarding the impact of high accommodation costs, poor job security and ineligibility for income support on lower to middle income earners in Jersey’s migrant communities with less than 5-year’s residency.
In addition, it was found that 38% of all households in relative low income after housing costs were pensioner households. Some pensioners benefit from property wealth that has increased in value over the course of decades, but many do not have access to this and have limited ways to increase their income.
The report’s findings, and that of Jersey Community Relations Trust’s (JCRT) 2022 Social Mobility and Education report, indicate the following should be priorities for Government in reducing disadvantage in Jersey:
- Reduce pensioner poverty in an ageing population
- Improve living standards and ensure a humane experience of living and working in Jersey for our middle to lowest earning migrant workers, including temporary and seasonal workers on whom much of our economy is dependent
- Improve equality of opportunity for all children and young people in our education system, in a world in which future skills requirements look very different.
Kate Wright, Chair of the JCRT said: “Jersey is a wealthy island, but increasing numbers of Islanders are living in poverty and experiencing hardship – and many of these are in employment. Jersey’s ageing population, rapidly rising costs of living and the housing affordability crisis are significant and challenging priorities for our Island.
“The JCRT believes that equity and inclusion must lie at the heart of the solutions to fixing these issues, otherwise we risk long-lasting damage to the economy and society.
“We need to understand how inequality is experienced across our community, especially for those on the lowest incomes – and, importantly, what we aspire for all Islanders in relation to their quality of life and standards of living. Defining this vision, and a joined-up strategy to deliver it, are key if the Government is to make meaningful progress in reducing hardship and disadvantage.”
Mark Pragnell, Director of Pragmatix Advisory, the JCRT’s research partner, said: “With its international finance centre, Jersey is a prosperous place that produces great wealth for the whole Island, but some Islanders benefit more than others. High housing costs are often the root cause of the Island’s inequalities.
“Material pockets of deprivation and poverty exist – among the retired, seasonal, migrant and low-skilled workers, and now – with the cost-of-living crisis – working families on middle incomes.”
The full report can be found on the JCRT website.