Housing Minister is ‘a toothless role’, says former holder

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Ms Pryke, who chose not to stand for re-election last month, spent the last 3½ years in the role.

And she said it was time marked with much frustration and few successes.

The team in the Strategic Housing Unit is small, with just three officers. They work with Andium and five smaller housing trusts to find accommodation for those accepted on the Social Housing Gateway. The waiting list for accommodation on that list was 782 people last month.

‘The Housing Minister has no control over Andium or the social housing trusts at all,’ Ms Pryke said. ‘And they need control.’

Since Andium took over the stock of the former Housing Department, she said that the Housing Minister is essentially a toothless role.

‘I could set high-level policy, that’s it,’ Ms Pryke said. ‘And the States threw it out.

‘I tried to bring in social housing regulations, those got thrown out in the States, which was disappointing, because at least that way the minister could have some limited control over the social housing trusts, how they operate, making sure they have good governance in place.’

While the trusts seem well run, she believes regulations should still be set down in law.

‘I did not have much power at all,’ Ms Pryke said. ‘Just powers of persuasion, talking.’

She used that voice, she said, to push the housing trusts to meet some niche housing needs, for people falling outside the system.

‘That took a lot of [persuading],’ she said. ‘I was saying, “How can you help us, government, housing people that have come out of prison, or have been homeless?” It’s a little niche group, but they still need to be housed.”’

Her other victories in the role included establishing a Tenancy Deposit Scheme, which was introduced in 2015.

Another was getting 40 social housing rental units and 40 shared-equity homes attached to the development at College Gardens. The 40 rental units were turned over to Jersey Homes Trust this week.

Two reports she commissioned are expected to come out in the next few months – one looking at how to improve the gateway and the other assessing housing needs across all sectors and whether Jersey still needs two categories of housing – qualified and unqualified.

‘There is so much more to do,’ she said. ‘It was only a small unit and I think that is where we failed to actually grasp the nettle.

‘I hope this Council of Ministers actually grasp the nettle. It takes time to evolve and we need to build more but we also need to look at the population.’

Senator Sam Mézec has now taken over the role.

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