Housing budget causes uproar in Milton Keynes Council: Tories and Lib Dems unite against plans

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A united front against pressure to pass an “ill-thought-out” housing budget ended in victory for the city’s Conservative and Liberal Democrat groups.

The report presented at tonight’s council meeting was slammed as “dangerous” by Councillor Catriona Morris, while others took offence to Labour leader Pete Marland’s insistence for everyone to vote in favour.

Opposition councillors claimed the Housing Revenue Account budget would have knocked 400 people in “greatest need” down the council housing list to make room for the city’s homeless.

It follows plans to axe bed and breakfast for the homeless and allow them to skip the housing queue to help save £500,000 from next year’s budget.

By uniting against the administration, Lib Dems and Tories voted against the proposals - with 29 votes to 24.

Councillor Hannah O’Neil, cabinet member for housing, said a vote against the budget was a vote against “council housing and regeneration” but that she “shouldn’t have expected anything else”.

The report recommended a rent increase of CPI + one per cent for 2015/16, meaning tenants would pay 2.2 per cent more - pushing it up to £89.64 per month.

Labour leader Pete Marland said the increase would provide a rise in income for the HRA and mean more money for future council housing and regeneration.

But Councillor Alice Bramall said: “Sadly it is clear from the Labour leader’s reaction to the opposition’s response that they don’t understand the implications it will have on Milton Keynes’ most vulnerable residents.

“There will still be new council houses built regardless, but had we voted for it, the number of homeless people would have increased.

“The council works in a consensual way as no party has overall control. It is high time the Labour administration realise this so we can start putting the residents first and save them from the mistakes this inexperienced Labour cabinet seem to be making while handling the council’s finances.”