Young people support action to stop period poverty in Milton Keynes

Period poverty was the top concern of nearly 200 young people who have had their say on Milton Keynes Council’s budget.

MK Youth Cabinet sent out a questionnaire that was answered by 193 young people age 11-18 and asked them to rank eight issues in terms of importance. Some 84 of those ranked period poverty highest.

MK Council's offices

MK Council's offices

“The consensus (from male and female participants) was that schools should provide free and accessible sanitary products for girls not just in need,” a report to councillors says.

“Suggestions on how this could be achieved include working with voluntary organisations, and goodie bags given to girls in schools or placed in toilets. Some felt items left out for free could be abused.”

Milton Keynes Council’s leader, Pete Marland, said he thought it is “brilliant” that young people had put across their views. “We have addressed most of the issues which are similar to those of anyone else in Milton Keynes.”

The council is planning to take action on period poverty but Cllr Marland said: “We don’t want to come along as a big, clever council and tell people not to do what they are already doing. We want to fill the gaps.

“It is a good thing that awareness is being raised of issues like period poverty because for some people who are only earning £100 a week, spending 60p on sanitary products is a real issue”

He added that criticism of such schemes often came from people who “thought nothing of spending £3.50 on a latte”.

The council is working on setting up a trial scheme to tackle period poverty.

The young people also commented on regeneration, fly-tipping and litter, grid road name signs and improvements for roundabouts.

MK Council is due to set its budget on Tuesday in a move that will see what residents have to pay in their 2019-20 council tax bills.

Councillors have been recommended to approve charging the benchmark Band D household £1,381.65, an increase of 2.99 per cent. This will raise £117.270 million for MK Council and £530,000 for the city’s network of 47 parish councils.