Thousands more people are at risk of becoming homeless due to MK council taking too long in processing its applications for Housing Benefit.
That’s the claim from opposition Tory councillors after statistics showed it takes the council an average of 57 days to deal with new claimants. This compares to a national average of 22 days.
“There is a huge backlog of around 7,000 individual claims waiting to be processed, putting those people at real risk of becoming homeless as they struggle to keep up with their rent,” said Conservative leader Alex Walker.
The report, from Citizens Advice, reveals how one mum-of-two applied for benefit in January and has still not had it fully awarded, despite constant contact with the council.
Cllr Walker is now calling for urgent action.
He said: “Thousands of people o are struggling to get the support they need. These are our most vulnerable residents and the Labour Council should be ashamed. They are actively putting people at risk of becoming homeless.”
He added: “The council have been aware of this since the start of the year and other councils don’t have an issue. There really is no excuse for letting these people down. They have a duty to prevent people from becoming homeless, they need to urgently look at this before it gets any worse.
But Pete Marland, MK Council leader, says Cllr Walker’s claims are based on old information.
“The CAB report is based on old data and they didn’t discuss the report with us before publishing it, something we are surprised about,” he said.
“We were made aware of a problem in the processing of new claims and have worked with LGSS to resolve the issue, and have put significant resources into doing so. The backlog of over 8000 claims was cleared by March 2018. The number of days to process a claim has also fallen significantly.
“However the real problem is that we are experiencing a huge increase in demand and applications. We know this is down to more people falling into poverty because of the Tory Government, and Universal Credit will only make it harder and push more people into debts. The brazen hypocrisy of the MK Tories on blaming the council for struggling under the weight of their own policies is staggering but not unexpected.
“Sadly the MK Conservatives prefer a good headline to the truth, but we will continue to work to improve services when we have to.”