New report shows highs and lows of Milton Keynes
The ups and downs of life in Milton Keynes have been laid bare in a new report called Vital Signs.
Published by MK community Foundation, the report details everything from health, wealth, diversity and crime over the past year.
Based on a survey of the local population, it reveals that 64 per cent of city people do NOT believe MK is meeting the needs of its migrant communities.
The largest such community is Black African, which accounts of one out of every 10 students in local schools.
Generally, 35 per cent of all city pupils are from ethnic or cultural minorities.
Health was another concern, with 76 per cent of people surveyed stating that medical appointments were not available at the times they needed them.
Routine GP appointments had to be made almost a month in advance and emergency appointments were hard to get, they complained.
Hospital admissions in MK for young people with asthma were 26 per higher than the national average. But the city saw 33 per cent fewer births than average to mums under the age of 18.
Crime posed a problem for many people, with the number of offences reported in MK increasing by 25 per cent between 2010 and 2015.
There are now 71 crimes reported for every 1,000 residents in the city.
The report stated: “Building a strong sense of safety and security is central to our success.”
Prosperity and productivity is booming in Milton Keynes, even though many people are struggling to make ends meet.
The average weekly income for working families in MK is £577 - the 10th highest in the national.
But this is because the very high earners are “dramatically dragging up” the figures for average or low earners, says the Vital Signs report.
Productivity per worker is 18 per cent higher than the national average, while the city is third most successful in the UK for start-up businesses.
The report says: “Our local economy continues to grow but more than half of local households report that they are currently reducing their monthly spending.
“It continues to be a ‘tale of two cities with some strong and thriving sectors providing substantial uplift and growth’. while others struggle.”
However Milton Keynes is becoming a ‘city of deprivation’ despite all attempts to help families in distress.
One in five city children are still living below the poverty line - and the problem is getting worse and worse.
A hard-hitting report published by MK Community Foundation states the crisis has been made “more challenging” by the enforced closure of a string of local charities set up to help hard-up people.
Shelter, Homestart and many lunch and social clubs have been forced to shut down because of council and government budget cuts.
Meanwhile the Citizens Advice Bureau and the YMCA have endured “significant cuts” due to shrinking resources, says the report, which is called Vital Signs.
As a result the gap between the rich and poor has widened in MK despite millions of pounds worth of business investment.
In the past year the city has moved up 31 places in the list of most deprived local authorities in the UK.
Some 21 areas in the city now rank among the 20 per cent most deprived areas in England. The worst are Bletchley East, Beanhill, Netherfield and Tinkers Bridge.
The report states: “In the four years since the ‘one in five children’ figure was first reported, the problem remains unimproved, with growing numbers of families experiencing financial hardship.”
Council leader Pete Marland said the statistics for children living in poverty in MK were “shocking”.
He said: “This council is committed to tackling this issue. We’ve kept open every children’s centre and we ‘re working with the health services to provide better services for young people. We have started the billion pound community-led regeneration scheme that will improve the houses children live in and help ensure people are better trained and qualified forwork.”
He added: “Every child in MK has a basic right to expect an equal opportunity to achieve their potential and the Council I run will do everything we can to make that happen.”
Meanwhile MK Foundation is encouraging everyone to get involved and work together to ensure the very best for children in Milton Keynes.