Speaking after the Budget today, Cllr Peter Marland, Leader of MK Council said:
“Today’s budget highlights that the austerity policies of the past ten years have done little to tackle the challenges that residents and businesses see every day in Milton Keynes.
Milton Keynes Council has faced £150m of cuts since 2010, and our services have suffered. Other public services such as our schools, our hospital and our police have been starved of cash too. People are not stupid; they know the damage austerity has done to services, to our city and to our country. Even the Tories nationally are now facing up to this fact.
Last month Theresa May promised an end to austerity. Today she had a chance to prove it was not just an empty slogan, yet the Chancellor delivered another £1.5bn of cuts to local government. Cuts that will impact on services such as bin collections, road repairs, help to our older people and service to vulnerable children. Yes, there was a small amount of good news in extra money for roads and some extra cash for social care, but it is short term funding and is not enough to meet the massive gap as the cost of delivering social care in the face of rising demand.
Today Milton Keynes Council was expecting to hear how the Chancellor and the Government would work with Milton Keynes Council to deliver the tens of thousands of affordable homes we need to ensure our young people can afford a home, help our homeless, and ensure MK grows in a planned and properly resourced way- he failed. No mention was made at all about ending the government ban on council’s building houses in significant numbers. Despite Milton Keynes standing ready to deliver the affordable homes people need for the right deal – our MPs and the Tory Government have proved they are happy to let that opportunity pass them by.
The Chancellor failed to tackle low paid work and poor working conditions. Thousands in MK are in jobs that rely on unwanted zero hours contracts, or in low paid jobs. Today the Chancellor could have ensured work pays, he did not. He pledged to continue to roll out Universal Credit, hitting those in work but on low pay the hardest.
Finally the Chancellor could have kept the Tory promise to end austerity for our NHS, our police and our schools. Instead he offered paltry shorty term funding. Our NHS is now one of the most poorly resourced health care systems in the western world. Our schools are being forced to choose between cleaning, teaching assistants or roof repairs. Our police are cut to the bone and community policing is paying the price.
This budget is a missed opportunity. It was a change for the Tories to end austerity. People in Milton Keynes want change, yet this budget delivered more of the same polices that have delivered 10 years of collapsing living standards. People know the real cost of this budget will be another year of their hard work going unrewarded.”