Homeless families from Milton Keynes being housed in faraway flats

Milton Keynes Council is snapping up hundreds empty flats in other counties to house its homeless families.

Over the past three months alone it has signed deals with private rental agents on almost 400 properties.

These are as far afield as Wellingborough, Northampton, Bedford, Luton, and Dunstable.

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And many of them are hired on a nightly booking arrangement that exceeds the average monthly rent.

Last week housing councillor Nigel Long made the delegated decision to take on
28 new flats in Northants and Bedfordshire.

The council has already taken on 330 flats and houses out of county through five different agents, and is soon due to secure 40 more in Luton.

The five agents are UK Room, Rent connect, County Private, EPSL and TPS.

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It is understood the council pays them around £65 per night for a four-bedroom unit, £55 a night for three beds and £45 for two.

A source said: “The agents are doing very well indeed as this is more than they could get for a monthly flat rent.

“But it’s probably cheaper for the council than using hotels and B&Bs. It’s just a shame the properties are not local.”

Other critics have accused the council of shifting its homeless problem onto other authorities - and hoping the families will settle and enrol children at their local schools.

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But Mr Long said the council still pays for taxis to take “some children” to school in Milton Keynes.

Housing cabinet member Nigel Long said hiring flats at a nightly discounted rate was “much cheaper” than using B&B’s or hotels.

“Last Friday we had over 600 families in temporary accommodation. This costs millions,” he said.

He added: “Frankly the reason for securing accommodation outside of MK is that property in the city is scarce and more expensive.”

The flat-leasing frenzy has resulted in B&B use dropping by 45 per cent.