Action is needed to reduce housing costs in Milton Keynes. Just before Christmas the respected Joseph Rowntree Foundation published findings showing that nationally child poverty has risen to 1 in 3 children. In Milton Keynes the position is not totally clear, but at least 12,000 MK Children are in poverty though the latest figures for MK are based on August 2014.
Cllr Zoe Nolan, Cabinet Member for Children and Families said, “There are 64,850 children under 16 in Milton Keynes today and 18.3 % or 12,000 children are in poverty. I believe this is a big under-estimate. This level of children in poverty is down to Government austerity measures since 2010 and the huge rise in housing costs. The poverty is concentrated amongst low income households, many of whom are in expensive private rented housing and in low paid work. They are also concentrated in the poorest areas of the new city which have a high level of private rented properties.”
The findings were published by the JRF and they highlight that after 20 years of reducing poverty, until 2011/12, the numbers in poverty have now started to rise again.
Cllr Zoe Nolan added, “The vision of Milton Keynes as a modern city where everyone was able to live and work free from poverty is being undermined by Government policy since 2010 and the impact is now starting to show.”
Cllr Zoe Nolan concluded “I believe that all children deserve the chance of a bright future. These latest figures highlight how Government policy is creating a divided society and a two tier Milton Keynes. The number of children living in poverty is set to rise as the children’s population rises, and more households are stuck in high cost private rented housing. I believe without rent controls and the building of more genuinely affordable housing, the growth in child poverty will continue to blight Milton Keynes.”
Joseph Rowntree Report. https://www.jrf.org.uk/report/uk-poverty-2017
MK Council Officer Comment. (2 January 2018)
“This (JRF) report uses DWP data known as Households Below Average Income (HBAI) which is (basically) where household income is below 60% of average income – it is more complex as this has not been adjusted for inflation since the 2010/11 base year, but its best to think of it simply as below 60% of average national income. The other factor is that JRF have used the After Housing Cost (ACH) measure, so the below 60% takes into account housing costs. The JRF report uses the most up-to-date data which is from 15/16 – so in that context it is not what we would consider recent, but is the most recently published at a national level. Although it does not break this down to an LA level, it show that the rates in the South East have remained fairly consistent over the years (see below):
2011/12 - 2013/14 – 24%
2012/13 - 2014/15 – 25%
2013/14 - 2015/16 – 24%
The data that we use at a local level for child poverty and have always done is from HMRC forecasts based on benefits and tax credits data – the last reported figure at LA level is from August 2014, and that shows a figure of 18.3% for MK – this will be updated sometime this year, its not yet clear when. This measure is known to overestimate child poverty as it assumes all families in out-of-work benefits are in poverty. Because the lead time between the two data sources is not that long and the trends for our area (SE) show that it is stable, I would be confident in saying it is fine to use the 18.3% figure as the most recent and accurate at an LA level.”