ISLANDS work more but have less disposable income on average than other countries – with Jersey housing costs ranking second out of 41 countries and jurisdictions, according to new figures.
The Better Life Index, which was released by Statistics Jersey yesterday, found that average expenditure on housing in Jersey accounted for more than a quarter of household income.
The index measures the well-being of people in countries and regions of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development and showed that for residents of Jersey it has declined over the past three years – with the island ranking 24th out of 41 nations surveyed.
Jersey’s famous community spirit has been proven in the latest figures, with the percentage of people having someone to rely on in times of need standing at 96%, more than in all OECD countries except from Iceland. Norway, Ireland, Finland and the Czech Republic finished second alongside Jersey.
In the report, wellbeing is measured across 11 factors, including income, housing, civic engagement and life satisfaction.
The JEP contacted the government for comment on the index but did not receive a response before going to press.
The index found that 26.8% of household disposable income in 2019 was spent on housing in Jersey. It was the second worst of all OECD countries, with only Slovakia having a higher percentage. The figure was 20% in 2009/10 and 26% in 2017.
The island also ranked 21st out of 41 countries for the average amount of disposable income per person, and was below the OECD average. This is despite Jersey having high employment rates compared to other jurisdictions.
Carl Walker, head of the Jersey Consumers Council, said it was “not surprising that the amount of money in people’s pockets is going down”.
“We are well aware that this affects all areas of life and in particular it shows in the cost of housing. Islanders must continually spend a greater proportion of their income on accommodation and this report has underscored that,” he said.
The average price of a property in the UK at the end of 2021 was £271,000 – around 2½ times less than Jersey’s average of £673,000 – while even the UK’s most expensive region , London, was more than £150,000 less than the Island figure.
Mr Walker added that rising costs of living in other areas of life are also reducing the disposable income of islanders.
“Consumers are facing the perfect storm. They are still adjusting to the impacts of Brexit at a time when the global economy is emerging from Covid. Meanwhile, supply chains are being impacted by the effects of oil and wheat as a result of the war in Ukraine. Life was already expensive in Jersey, but it made that worse,” he said.
The index also showed that Jersey’s voter turnout in the May 2018 States Assembly elections was 43.4%, which was the lowest of any participating country.
Kevin Keen, president of the Association of Jersey Charities, said the index results were “shocking”. However, he added that the release of the data came at a “crucial time” before the June election. “The index has always been a really important metric because it’s comprehensive and really tells us where we are at as an island and based on the results it’s usually not good news. We have the potential to be such a beautiful island, but we need to look carefully at where we are as the results show that the wellbeing of islanders has continuously declined,’ he said. “We will only drop down the rankings every year if these areas are not addressed. We’re talking about having world-class hospitals and other facilities, but I think the government needs to take a more modest approach and focus on improving those rankings first,’ he added. .