Guernsey business leaders bash restrictive population law as endangering 'way of life'

Business leaders issued a statement saying that the law has made it difficult to recruit Credit: ITV Channel

Business leaders in Guernsey are calling for the island's population law - which restricts who can live and work on the island - to be reformed, saying it is contributing to staff shortages.

The Confederation of Guernsey Industry says certain sectors, like care and hospitality, are experiencing a "skills drain" due to difficulties with recruitment.

Changes to the population law came into force in April, designed to help businesses recruit globally, they also made changes to the existing system of work permits on the island.

The CGI's chairman, Dave Newman said that businesses affected "are struggling as the staff they employ are classed as unskilled, but they are not. They are absolutely essential to Guernsey’s economy."

"One CGI member alone has had to halve its business as it is simply unable to keep employees" he continued.

Mr Newman also criticised the "inflexibility" of the law, as well as the length of time taken by the population management office to process applications.

"Unless the law is scrapped or some flexibility is permitted, our infrastructure and the way of life of the island is in peril", he said.

Deputy Rob Prow, who is President of the Home Affairs committee, has disputed the criticism made by the CGI and defended the changes to the law.

"Labour can be accessible from throughout the globe where it wasn't before," he said.

"This is far more flexible. This is what I am struggling to understand."

He added that the CGI "not only fail[s] to understand the changes we have introduced... but also [don't] appear to understand what would happen if we abolished the law like its statement suggests."

He added that if the changes were scrapped "all businesses in Guernsey would operate in a far more restrictive landscape than they do now".

Deputy Prow also said he was open to engaging with members of the CGI to find solutions going forward.

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