Poverty gap becomes a ‘growing problem’ in Milton Keynes

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Milton Keynes is developing into a fat and lazy city where the poor get poorer and the rich get richer.

The area is becoming a distinct ‘tale of two cities’ – with spiralling poverty and health problems in many areas and growing affluence in others.

These are the stark facts laid out in the latest Vital Signs report, published by MK Community Foundation.

Their months of research show child obesity, poverty, hunger, homelessness and infant mortality are all increasing.

And the city’s wealth of green open spaces are providing little solace, with a meagre 13.5 per cent of the population using them for exercise or health reasons.

But the most disturbing health statistic is the number of infants that die in MK – 5.3 out of every 1,000. This is 35 per cent higher than the national average.

Meanwhile a shocking 20 per cent of city 11-year-olds are now defined as “clinically obese”.

Yet the MK Food Bank provided 12,300 emergency food parcels in 2016 to households who simply could not afford to eat.

The report also shows the proportion of homeless households that include children or pregnant women has soared by 128 per cent since 2013. This equates to 5.7 out of every 1,000 households, compared to the national rate of 1.9.

The report states: “A growing number of areas within the city are classed amongst the most deprived in the country, and child poverty remains stubbornly at an unacceptably high level.

“At the same time, we see a concentration of wealth at the upper end of the income scale in MK that is unusual in its scale.”

Vital Signs also found that hospital admissions for self harm among 10 to 24-year-olds for have increased by 40 per cent since 2013, while hospital admission for substance abuse among 15 to 24-year-olds have increased by 45 per cent over the past four years.

On the plus side, MK’s unemployent rate of 4.3 per cent during 2016 was below the national average, which is 4.9 per cent.