“By most measures, Milton Keynes is a highly successful place: growing population, strong average earnings, high Gross Value Added, lots of new businesses, more jobs than workers, etc, etc. So it is somewhat ironic that, in the same week that Teresa May announces “The End of Austerity”, Milton Keynes Community Foundation released its annual Vital Signs Report that takes the pulse of our community (http://www.mkcommunityfoundation.co.uk/about/vital-signs-2018/).
Among many indicators, it reveals that homelessness in MK is almost double the national average, 1 in 4 children live in households below the poverty line, private rents are rising 26% faster than wages, 14% of working people earn less than the Living Wage Foundation minimum, over 65s are set to rise by 44% by 2026 with increasing pension poverty. These figures come as a shock to most of us living in prosperous parts of a seemingly prosperous new city. So much of this bad news is related to the availability and cost of housing. If disproportionate housing costs are replaced by the national average, poverty rates would improve dramatically.
MK continues to build many new homes. But demand outstrips supply, so prices remain high whether bought or rented. The only time we got the balance right was when we built a substantial number of social rented homes. If austerity really is over, perhaps investment in a new social housing programme might be the first real indicator?”
In addition to his role as Planning Partner at DLA, Lawrence Revill is also Chairman of Milton Keynes Community Foundation