Relentless rise in costs of temporary accommodation puts £3m strain on Milton Keynes Council's budget
Council officers are forecasting that an extra £3 million will need to be spent on putting families into temporary accommodation this financial year than they had been expecting.
A combination of a change in the law about who can be considered homeless, private landlords evicting people because they can get higher rents, and families breaking up has seen figures rocket since April.
With around 1,000 families being housed in temporary accommodation in MK every week, and new homes taking a while to come through, the council is facing what it hopes will be a short term increase in costs to taxpayers.
The forecast overspend on temporary accommodation has increased by £755,000 in just three months to October, according to budget figures published by the council this week.
Cllr Rob Middleton (Lab, Wolverton), the council’s elected budget and resources chief, is due to make a delegated decision on Monday (December 23) to approve the draft budget. It’s a meeting held in public and is set to start at 5.30pm.
The council says it is recruiting more people to help prevent households becoming homeless, finding lower cost accommodation, returning its own empty properties into use faster, and buying more homes in the property market.
There’s also a council house building programme that they want to increase next year.
Background budget papers reveal that the council has underspent across some areas, as well as making millions of pounds of savings. Taken together, council officers say the budget is heading for an overspend of £50,000, and they are working on bringing that down.
The council has this week launched a consultation on its 2020-21 budget that is due to end on Valentine’s Day (February 14), in advance of its council tax-setting meeting later in that month.
The ruling Labour group claims that “good financial management” over the last five years, and a “slightly higher level” of Government funding has allowed it to propose a 3.49 per cent increase in MK Council’s average council tax. This includes a ring fenced amount for social care costs.
If agreed, the average band D-rated property would see its bills for council services increase to £1,428.86.
Within the budget proposals are plans to introduce a new low cost public transport scheme for 16 – 21 year olds; planting 2,000 new trees, creating new woodland and replacing diseased and dangerous trees.
They’re also funnelling more than £1m to improving the city centre; funding for cleaning litter hotspots, tackling fly-tipping, and clearing overgrown weeds; fixing potholes and resurfacing redways.
To comment on the council’s budget proposals before the middle of February, visit: https://www.milton-keynes.gov.uk/your-council-and-elections/mkbudget