1. ITV Report

Guernsey's new population management regime branded 'a debacle' by business

Les Douvres Hotel Photo: ITV News

A new system designed to streamline Guernsey's immigration and population management system has been branded 'a debacle' by a hotelier.

Ian Walker from Les Douvres Hotel and & the Fleur De Jardin says the new system has led to 'an exodus' of his staff.

He says he's really struggling to hire staff to work in his hotels from off-island.

I think it's a debacle, when it was first instigated, when the new law was introduced in April we were worried as to how it would affect our ongoing staff situation and it's proved a real problem.

We have staff who have left because they thought they'd be thrown out, as they had a year to go and said what are we going to do. So we had a mass exodus when this first started.

– Ian Walker, Hotelier

The criticism follows a call from the Confederation of Guernsey Industry (CGI) to 'urgently review' the new population management regime, which has been labelled as 'cumbersome' and 'difficult to use'.

Applications are not easy to put in, they're quite expensive, they're taking far too long to process and what you need when you're employing people, especially when you're bringing them from off-island is certainty and that certainty isn't coming through quick enough.

– Clive McMinn, CGI

In response to this criticism, Home Affairs have not done any interviews with ITV News on the subject, but instead sent us this statement.

Difficulties in recruiting and retaining staff in the hospitality sector is not an issue for Guernsey alone in current times. It is widely understood that the UK, for example, is also having difficulties in this area as a result of Brexit and the historically low value of the pound. In Guernsey, we are not immune from either of those factors so I think it would be unwise to suggest this is solely a population management law issue.

Having said that, it is true (as we publicly acknowledged in the media last week) that some application decisions are taking too long to process. However, it is important to clarify that, while significant challenges exist, the new system has brought with it a number of positive developments. For example, many employment-related applications are now being processed within days, as was always intended - we are committed to ensuring we get to a point where all applications are dealt with as seamlessly.

It is also important to emphasise that short-term actions have been taken to avoid customers being disadvantaged by the processing delays. Staff have issued temporary documents where needed and will continue to do so. This reduces the impact of any delay in a final decision being made on an application.

– Deputy Mary Lowe, Home Affairs