Council Leader Pete Marland has today welcomed the publication of the Local Government Association (LGA) report highlighting the tragedy of the growing homelessness crisis facing the Country and the huge number of children residing in temporary accommodation. (i)
Cllr Marland said, “Milton Keynes is facing a huge homelessness problem with 1,288 children in temporary accommodation last week (14.07.17). As the LGA says the position is likely to get worse for a range of reasons. Labour led Milton Keynes has adopted a twin track approach and some progress is being made. Our progress reflects the good practice highlighted in the LGA report.“
Why will homelessness get worse?
There are 4 main reasons why it will continue to rise:
i. The freeze on Local Housing Allowance (LHA) will mean the gap between private rented sector rents (PRS) and Housing Benefit will widen. Many lower income households, albeit in work, will not be able to afford the high rents.
ii. The Benefit cap will hit homeless families not in work.
iii. The insecurity of PRS tenancies leads to high turnover and evictions. (ii)
iv. The LHA rate will be used to cap Housing Benefit for Council and housing association tenants. (iii)
In addition Milton Keynes Council has lost £916,000 in money from the Government because of changes in funding for temporary accommodation.
Progress on Twin Track approach
Cllr Nigel Long, Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care and Housing said, “We have made some good progress in tackling homelessness locally, both in terms of homeless families (Track 1) and in terms of rough sleepers (Track 2). We will shortly announce further measures around rough sleepers.“
Progress is highlighted in the annex by action taken.
Cllr Long added, “We will shortly make public the location of the new One stop Shop for rough sleepers that will be operated independently by the voluntary sector; I can further highlight that in addition to the extra night shelter provision already in place we are looking to develop specialist ‘crash’ accommodation for night time emergencies. Again this will be operated by a housing support specialist.“
Cllr Marland concluded, “Tackling homelessness is a top priority for the Council and we are pleased that our work reflects the good practice highlighted by the LGA. But the real long term solution is more secure and affordable homes. That means the Government has to give us the freedom to invest in new homes. At present there is not much sign of them doing that. It is shameful that they do nothing whilst there are over 1200 children in Milton Keynes and tens of thousands more across the Country living in temporary accommodation.“
(i) Housing our Homeless households. LGA. 22.07.17
(iii) Local Housing Allowance caps and the social rented sector. House of Commons Briefing. 16.06.17
Annex A: Progress across the Twin Track actions on Homelessness.
Progress in tackling General Needs Homelessness:
1 Reduced B&B
We have reduced the use from 53% of homeless in 2015/16 to less than 1% now.
2 LHA level temporary accommodation (TA)
We have entered into a partnership for local TA provision at LHA rents. £3 million in 17/18. Managed by MKC.
3 Working with PRS
We have established an enhanced PRS leasing scheme.
4 Modular TA
We are piloting 60 homes.
5 Purchasing new homes
We have put £7 million in 17/18. Estimate circa 98 homes. Bought/built 74 in 16/17 Council houses.
6 Real Lettings Fund
We have invested £5 million in buying properties with the properties managed by St. Mungoes.
7 Prevention work
We are employing 6 new staff members to work on homelessness prevention. Linked to the new Homelessness Reduction
Progress in tackling Street Homelessness (Rough sleepers)
1 Night Shelter
Extra 15 overnight places (Winter) Up to 30
2 Night Shelter
Introduced 15 overnight places (Summer)
3 Introduced outreach service
In partnership with Luton, CB and Bedford. Specialist mental health staff. Preparing to fund after 2 years grant.
4 Establishing One stop shop.
Final arrangement on building being finalised. To be operated by Voluntary sector
5 Crash accommodation
Proposing a specialist emergency shelter.
6 Homelessness Bus
We are strongly supporting. Will give 16 extra places at night.