‘Poverty must end’: New jobs and better homes to help MK’s deprived neighbourhoods

Serpentine Way, Lakes Estate
Serpentine Way, Lakes Estate

A 15-year strategy to end city poverty will “reverse the decline” of neighbourhoods by delivering more jobs and better housing, it is claimed.

A vicious cycle of unemployment, low levels of income, and poor education has led seven estates in Milton Keynes to be ranked in the UK’s top 15 per cent of most deprived areas.

As revealed by the Citizen in April, a multimillion pound facelift is on the horizon for Netherfield, Coffee Hall, Tinkers Bridge, North Bradville, Fullers Slade, the Lakes Estate and Beanhill – but that is just one part of the transformation planned.

This week a revised regeneration vision reveals the council’s plans to tackle the root cause of poverty by focusing on ‘people, place and prosperity’.

Kathryn Eames, head of regeneration, said: “In MK we have a hollowed out labour market where we have lots of employment that’s low skilled, and low paid, and lots that’s highly skilled, but not a huge amount in between.

“If you’re in a low paid job, it’s very difficult to make the jump into something better.

“More widely there is an impact on the whole of MK, through a depressed council tax base, increased local spend on health and support services and a reduced qualified resource pool for local businesses.”

Since the council’s original regeneration strategy in 2009, more than £1million has been spent on training and employment projects which has got 1,285 people back into a job, and helped almost 5,000 gain new skills.

The updated plan takes this to the next step as the council seeks to find entrepreneurs, invest in the economy and look at how education can help guard against the risk of future poverty.

But that’s just the beginning, says Ms Eames, who admits poverty is a cost “we cannot afford”.

She said: “By working with communities to improve housing and environments, by improving access to training and employment, by increasing confidence and aspiration and residents’ potential to shape their future through increased opportunities to engage, we can reverse the decline in those neighbourhoods, and support those residents to reach their potential.”

Cabinet members will meet on Monday to vote on adopting the draft regeneration MK strategy.