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Labour ready to back extra funds for rough-sleeping and mental health

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Labour in Milton Keynes have said that they will ask the public to back them in supporting an extra 1% rise in council tax to pay for more help for rough-sleepers, children’s mental health services, and extra funds to the Voluntary and Charity Sector (VCS).

MK Council is currently consulting on cuts of £14million for next year, having already had to make cuts of over £130 million since 2010. Those proposals include a Council Tax rise of 1.99% and a Social Care Levy increase of 3%, totalling a rise of 4.99%.

However during the Budget in December, the Chancellor announced councils could consider an extra 1% rise in council tax to offset major demand pressures for services. Now Labour’s ruling Cabinet will recommend that MK Council takes the extra 1% rise, but that the money should be invested in tackling the rough-sleeping issue, more mental health support for young people, and extra help for the voluntary and charity sector.

The Cabinet are proposing:

· Extra funding to tackling rough sleeping

· Ongoing funding for emergency accommodation for rough-sleepers

· Mental Health support for street homeless

· Housing and tenancy advice service

The draft budget already included funds for outreach work and funds for a One Stop Shop for rough-sleepers.

· Funding for children’s mental health support

· More help for the voluntary and community sector

· Introducing a small grant fund for new health and wellbeing schemes

· VCS Resilience Fund

· Support for sector capacity building

The council will maintain their Council Tax help scheme at the current level of support.

Cllr Peter Marland, Labour Leader of MK Council said:

MK Council has faced huge cuts over the past 7 years and services have suffered. We know we have to take tough decisions. The Draft Budget we proposed in December protected a number of areas such as grass cutting, landscaping and litter, as well as investing more in some areas like road signs. It also has some extra money for homelessness.

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Cllr Marland continued: “However the services that have suffered the most from cuts are the ones many people don’t see, the support and help services that many people rely on. So we are proposing that we should take the extra 1% council tax rise and invest the extra income in support vulnerable people, helping rough-sleepers, investing in children’s mental health services and supporting our voluntary sector.

Cllr Hannah O’Neill, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Healthier and Stronger Communities said:

We are determined to try and alleviate some of the suffering caused by Tory government cuts. It is disgusting that today in one of the richest cities in one of the richest countries people have to sleep on the streets and can’t access help and support. We need to end the tent crisis in the City not by removing people, as the Tory Leader of Windsor would, but by helping people get off the street and supporting them into a better place, with housing and mental health care.”

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She continued:

We also want to invest in children’s mental health services and support our voluntary sector that provides a safety net, but also to help keep people fit and active, building community resilience. The money spent on these areas is an investment for the future and will actually save the council money in the future, I am sure.

Cllr Marland concluded:

This is not an easy choice. We know people are finding making ends meet tough, and so is the council after years of cuts. However this extra funding will save lives, improve lives and give people hope for the future. It will make the City a better place and ultimately save us money. I hope people can support it.

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