Council leader says Chancellor’s budget is a slap in the face for Milton Keynes

Chancellor Philip Hammond holding his red ministerial box outside 11 Downing Street, London, before heading to the House of Commons to deliver his Budget
Chancellor Philip Hammond holding his red ministerial box outside 11 Downing Street, London, before heading to the House of Commons to deliver his Budget

The Chancellor’s new budget is a “slap in the face” for Milton Keynes, says MK Council leader Pete Marland.

He says the measures announced about housing, infrastructure and the NHS have failed to properly address the challenges facing the people of Milton Keynes and will do little to improve the lives of residents.

Pete Marland

Pete Marland

Pete said: “The Conservative budget continued to promote a failed housing model with expensive subsidies to house builders and sticking plasters for a broken housing system.

“Milton Keynes Council has nearly 100 people sleeping rough on the streets each night and over 700 families in temporary accommodation. The average house price is over £310,000 and the average deposit needed for a first-time buyer for a small property is nearly £50,000.

“Average rents are now nearly £1000 a month and the proportion of income spend on housing for low and middle incomes can be as high as half of monthly income.”

He described the ability to own a home in MK as a “distant dream” for many.

“Young people have little chance of getting on the housing ladder and many are even struggling to afford rent, let alone saving to buy. While abolishing Stamp Duty on property worth less than £300,000 for first time buyers is a welcome help, it is a tiny fraction of the cost of buying a house and only helps those able to buy in the first place.”

The Labour-led Milton Keynes Council has consistently made the case to build a new generation of council houses, houses for rent that are genuinely affordable and a mix of housing for sale for people on all incomes.

The budget failed to act on any of these in any meaningful way, said Pete, and also failed to deal with the causes of homelessness; rising housing costs, falling wages, cuts to Local Housing Allowance, and rogue landlords offering unstable, short term tenancies.

Pete has welcomed the re-commitment to build East-West Rail and the East-West Expressway, but has questioned when it will finally be delivered.

“Every recent budget has re-announced support for East-West Rail but adds a year to when it will be delivered. The time has come for less talk, more delivery on infrastructure for the region,” he said.

He added: “The budget failed to deliver on how they will fund infrastructure for the growth and expansion of Milton Keynes. Continual promises around delivering schools, GPs surgeries and community facilities by our local MPs always end up with nothing delivered.”

Pete also accused the Chancellor of not addressing issues around the NHS in MK, saying: “The situation in Milton Keynes is even tougher due to our growing population and the rising pressure on the social care budget of Milton Keynes Council. The joint financial pressures on the NHS and social care are pushing both systems to near collapse.”.

He said the budget nothing to reverse the real terms cuts to local MK schools, or to ease the £130m cuts faced by on MK Council, with social care, children’s services and many other services “at breaking point.”

“He (the Chancellor) did reduce the tax rate on the tiny levels of tax they do pay for big global corporations and tax avoiders like Amazon, Starbucks and Google to a rate less than someone earning £20,000, but doing nothing for small business that are the backbone of our MK economy,” he said.

Pete concluded:: ““The budget is a slap in the face for the people of Milton Keynes on the issues that matter... This budget is a hollow failure.”

Meanwhile the city’s two Troy MPs have praised the budget.

Mark Lancaster has welcomed the announcement that stamp duty for first time buyers up to £300,000 will be scrapped.

He said: “This is an incredibly bold move and will be very welcome news for first time buyers across Milton Keynes. I and other colleagues have been calling for more support for young people to get on the housing ladder so I am delighted those calls have been listened to.”

“With the different Help to Buy schemes, the Help to Buy ISA and now no stamp duty I really hope home ownership can be a reality for young people in MK.”