1,000 households – including 1,400 children – set to spend Christmas in temporary accommodation in Milton Keynes
Close on 1,000 households - including an estimated 1,400 children - are set to spend Christmas day in temporary accommodation in the city.
The number of people housed this way by Milton Keynes Council has been rising relentlessly since the middle of the year, driven up as families break up and private landlords evict tenants.
On Friday (December 6) the number of households housed in temporary accommodation by MK Council hit a new high of 973, up from 723 in April.
Since then the council has taken on new responsibilities over homelessness.
The council's housing chief, Cllr Nigel Long (Lab, Bletchley West) said the council is working hard to help people. He fears the number could spike even higher after Christmas as under-pressure families split.
"It is just horrendous," said Cllr Long. "We are probably talking about 1,400 to 1,500 children being visited by Santa in temporary accommodation this Christmas.
"When I was a housing officer in London, we could say to a parent 'give us six months and we will house them' but that option isn't there now."
Even though the council has control over some 14,000 properties in MK, there just aren't enough vacancies through death or movement to keep up with needs.
"If we had been building homes since the 1980s we would not have had an issue now," he said.
Cllr Long said the council is working on many fronts, including plans to build hundreds more new council homes in the city, has installed 70 modular homes in Fishermead, and has employed more council workers who help to prevent people from becoming homeless in the first place.
The council's Conservative spokesman on housing and homelessness, Cllr Allan Rankine (Bletchley Park) said that when his party left office in 2014, the number of households in temporary accommodation was only 140.
Cllr Rankine said: "This is a truly heartbreaking situation. A situation that has been allowed to spiral because of a failure to act by the Labour administration.
"Labour in MK in five years have destroyed the relationship with landlords, failed to build the homes they promised, scrapped the regeneration programme, and voted against our plan to invest £2million to support prevention.
"They need to a grip of the situation and give families the security of a home and hope of a better future. It can be done."
Cllr Jenni Ferrans (Monkston) said the Lib Dems would "centre on using the land we have, and working with developers and housing associations far more strongly, to build the types that we need.
"The reason why we have so many many homeless households is that developers are not building the type of homes we need
"Developers are pursuing more profitable markets from outside MK rather than the MK needs, and housing associations are struggling with viability in the absence of government funding.
"The administration is not putting sufficient priority on the work needed to provide evidence for the new policies that we need."