UPDATED: Anger as bid to ease homelessness is refused by government
Labour council leaders have reacted with fury after a Â£2m bid to help homeless people in Milton Keynes was rejected by a government minister who witnessed the city's plight for himself.
Last week saw the number of homeless families in MK reach 561. There are around 1000 children living with their parents in single rooms sharing bathrooms and kitchens.
In the same week, a third rough sleeper with complex needs died in a tent in a city underpass.
In the wake of this tragedy, Labour councillors have now received a flat refusal to their plea for government cash to provide 50 new units for homeless and vulnerable people.
They say Minister for Homelessness Marcus Jones not only refused the funding but didn’t even acknowledge the request directly at all.
The response has drawn a fuming reaction from the council leader Pete Marland and Cabinet member for housing, Councillor Nigel Long.
Nigel said: “The Minister visited MK earlier in the year and invited us to submit a bid for funding to help homeless people, so we spent time and resources working up a fully costed and deliverable bid. Yet the Minister didn’t even have the courtesy to respond as to why we’d been turned down for the cash. He sent us a generic ‘get lost’ letter.”
“It is treating our effort, and the homeless people we need to help, with contempt. He clearly does not give a stuff about Milton Keynes and the housing crisis facing many people.”
Nigel added: “Our local Tory MP recently said he’d bring the Housing Minister to MK again soon. What’s the point in bringing him to pay lip service to people? We don’t need PR stunts. We need more new affordable homes and funds to deal with the homelessness challenge facing the new city.”
Meanwhile council leader Pete said: “Tacking the homeless crisis is one of our top priorities. We won’t take this setback lying down. We’ll keep fighting to get the funds we need to ensure every homeless person in MK gets the help they need.
We don’t want to see families in temporary accommodation or anyone die on the streets. We want decent homes for all.”