The Leader of Milton Keynes Council has said that the measures announced in the budget fail to properly address the challenges facing the people of Milton Keynes and will do little to improve the lives of residents.
The Conservative budget continued to promote a failed housing model with expensive subsidies to house builders and sticking plasters for a broken housing system.
Milton Keynes Council has nearly 100 people sleeping rough on the streets each night and over 700 families in temporary accommodation. The average house price is over £310,000 and the average deposit needed for a first-time buyer for a small property is nearly £50,000. Average rents are now nearly £1000 a month and the proportion of income spend on housing for low and middle incomes can be as high as half of monthly income.
The ability to own a home is a distant dream for many. Young people have little chance of getting on the housing ladder and many are even struggling to afford rent, let alone saving to buy. While abolishing Stamp Duty on property worth less than £300,000 for first time buyers is a welcome help, it is a tiny fraction of the cost of buying a house and only helps those able to buy in the first place.
The Labour-led Milton Keynes Council has consistently made the case to build a new generation of council houses, houses for rent that are genuinely affordable and a mix of housing for sale for people on all incomes. The budget failed to act on any of these in any meaningful way.
The budget failed to deal with the causes of homelessness; rising housing costs, falling wages, cuts to Local Housing Allowance, and rogue landlords offering unstable, short term tenancies.
MK Labour welcomed the re-commitment to build East-West Rail and the East-West Expressway, but asked will it finally be delivered? Every recent budget has re-announced support for East-West Rail but adds a year to when it will be delivered. The time has come for less talk, more delivery on infrastructure for the region.
The budget failed to deliver on how they will fund infrastructure for the growth and expansion of Milton Keynes. Continual promises around delivering schools, GPs surgeries and community facilities by our local MPs always end up with nothing delivered.
Labour-led MK Council has consistently asked Government to work with us to deliver thousands more houses in exchange for certainty on infrastructure, but have heard nothing.
On the NHS:
The Chief Executive of the NHS recently said that the NHS is in danger of collapse without extra cash. The cash pledged in the budget is nowhere near what is required.
The situation in Milton Keynes is even tougher due to our growing population and the rising pressure on the social care budget of Milton Keynes Council. The joint financial pressures on the NHS and social care are pushing both systems to near collapse. The budget did nothing to address these issues.
The Chancellor missed a golden opportunity to deliver a budget that responded to the issues raised during the General Election when the Tories lost their majority.
He refused to respond to concerns that our nurses, teachers, fire-fighters, armed forces and other public servants have had a real-terms pay cut every year since 2010. He failed to lift the public sector borrowing cap.
He refused to respond to concerns that cuts to welfare have gone too far and are forcing people into poverty, with over 1million extra children living in poverty today than in 2010, mostly people in work. He failed to respond to concerns Universal Credit will hurt more people.
He offered no extra support to homeless people in Milton Keynes. The pledge to end rough-sleeping by 2027, a whole decade away, is little short of a disgrace.
He refused to acknowledge that public support for continued austerity, that has been linked to an extra 120,000 deaths since 2010, has collapsed.
He did nothing to reverse the real terms cuts to local MK schools.
He did nothing to ease the £130m cuts to services forced on MK Council, with social care, children’s services and many other services at breaking point.
He did reduce the tax rate, on the tiny levels of tax they do pay, for big global corporations and tax avoiders like Amazon, Starbucks and Google to a rate less than someone earning £20,000, but did nothing for the small business that are the backbone of our MK economy.
Cllr Peter Marland said:
“The budget is a slap in the face for the people of Milton Keynes on the issues that matter.
On housing the Government continue to put cash and subsidies into the huge profits of house builders sitting on thousands of existing planning permissions.
They are determined to do anything but allow councils the power to build council houses, houses for genuinely affordable rent, and houses that are truly affordable to buy.“
“On infrastructure and the NHS we have heard it before. Our local Tory MPs will be dusting off their annual press release about funding East-West Rail and the NHS, when the reality is there for the people of MK to see: failure to deliver, our hospital squeezed and our nurses facing a pay cut.“
“What is clear, as the expected growth of the economy over the next few years was slashed, is that Tory austerity has failed and has been a disaster for this country and the economy.
Today was the chance for this Government to listen to the concerns of people that cost them their majority, but he put two fingers up to them and told them everything is fine. The test of any budget is how it addresses the challenges real people face daily, and on this test the budget is a hollow failure.“