A massive 12,500 children in Milton Keynes are living in poverty as the gap between rich and poor grows ever wider.
That’s one of the findings of a new report designed to test the city’s vital signs and to encourage debate and action.
“Milton Keynes is seen as affluent but this hides some sobering facts,” said Bart Gamber, the director of programmes at MK Community Foundation at the launch of Vital Signs MK this morning (Tuesday).
“Twelve areas within Milton Keynes are in the top 10 per cent most deprived areas of the country. Some 20.6 per cent of children living in Milton Keynes - 12,500 children - are living in poverty.”
People are considered as living in poverty if their household income is less than £16,000. The average income in Milton Keynes is more like £26,000, the Vital Signs launch event at the Open University’s Berrill Theatre heard.
Demand for Foodbank handouts has risen by 30 per cent in the last year with around 10,000 food packs handed out to local families. Over the last two years there has been a 70 per cent increase in demand.
“There is a growing problem of poverty,” Mr Gamber said.
Other parts of the report, put together by the Milton Keynes Community Foundation, indicated that the local economy is growing. But Mr Gamber asked: “Why aren’t more people benefiting from it?”
MK Community Foundation trustee Francesca Skelton said: “I feel shame that one fifth of our children live in poverty. We want a community that works for everyone.” The foundation provides in excess of £1.2million in funding to community organisations and is looking at making its spending more effective and in line wit what the community wants.
Among the positives to come out of the report are the local environment and arts scene.
The foundation is encouraging people to take part in the debate about how to improve life in Milton Keynes. Visit the blog www.vitalsignsmk.tumblr.com and www.mkcommunityfoundation.co.uk