Milton Keynes Council plans to spend £4 million on buying new homes to tackle the city’s housing shortage.
If approved, the scheme will enable the council to buy up to 40 houses on the open market to help reduce the number and huge cost of placing people in B&Bs and temporary accommodation.
The budget proposal, for the council’s housing stock, goes before the Cabinet on January 29. However, the move has been slammed by Labour as a ‘desperate measure.’
Councillor Hannah O’Neil. Labour deputy leader in Milton Keynes, said: “We have real concerns about this. We would rather see that money invested in new properties.
“We will be asking what will need doing to these houses to bring them up to a standard that is fit for purpose.
“These houses will be put in areas where properties may be a little cheaper and we are also concerned that first time buyers will be squeezed out of the market.”
Councillor Edith Bald, Cabinet member for housing, said: “We are taking a number of actions to alleviate the problem and as a result B&B and temporary accommodation stats are falling.
“Other actions the council is taking include building new council houses, the first time this has happened in over 15 years, working with landlords to increase the supply of good quality private sector affordable homes and ramping up support to prevent homelessness happening in the first place.”
The Conservative-led authority says the issue needs addressing urgently as opposed to waiting for new houses to be built which could take around three years.
Last year the council spent £1.2 million on hotels and bed and breakfast accommodation, claiming 25 per cent of the cost from the Government.
In June its application for help from the Department for Communities and Local Government to tackle the illegal use of B&Bs in the city was rejected.
Milton Keynes was one of the worst councils in the country for keeping the homeless in B&Bs longer than allowed.
The council’s proposal was rejected for not being innovative enough.