Milton Keynes Council’s Council House building programme is being brought forward by 12 months to try and help address the growing homelessness crisis facing Milton Keynes. However, Government help is needed to achieve more.
Cllr Nigel Long highlighted at the Council’s Budget Scrutiny Committee on October 3 that the programme for 512 new Council properties were to be completed by the end of 2021. This is twelve months ahead of the target date in the Council’s Plan.
Cllr Long said: “As we gear up to deliver our new build programme, we believe we can build the homes 12 months earlier than originally planned. But what we really need is Government funds to do more.”
He added: “Last Friday there were 882 families in temporary accommodation – a rise of 289 families since last October. A 33% increase. Hundreds of working families are being evicted by private landlords, highlighting lack of security and making the case for secure Council Housing.”
He continued: “It is also the case that, on average, a family is spending 343 days in temporary accommodation. The Council’s ability to move people out of temporary accommodation has been reduced due a reduction in Council Housing re-lets and Housing Association nominations. The case for more new homes is overwhelming.”
Cllr Long was giving evidence to the Council’s Budget Scrutiny Committee, which was looking at the high cost of using temporary accommodation. The gross cost in 2020/2021 is estimated to be £6.4 million to Council Tax payers.
Cllr Long said: “Milton Keynes is one of three places in England that is seeing a disproportionate rise in homelessness. The other two places are Brighton and Luton. We need to tackle the root problems of a fundamental lack of truly affordable housing. Our Council Housing Programme aims to start tackling years of failure to build such homes. But we need to do a lot more.”
Cllr Long concluded: “This programme of 512 new homes is good news, but we want to do much more. We are funding these new homes from Council borrowing. What we really need is for the Government to fund new Council Homes as it used to do. With proper Government support, we could more than double the Council Housing Programme to at least 1100 homes by 2022. Then we would truly be starting to end the homelessness crisis facing Milton Keynes. I have written to the two MPs for Milton Keynes asking them to support Government funding to allow the Council to build more homes, more quickly.”