MK Council leader rejects claims that 7,000 people are at risk of homelessness because of delays in processing housing benefit

    Peter Marland claims a recent report in the press is based on old data.

    The report, produced by Citizens Advice in Milton Keynes, stated that in February 2018 Milton Keynes had 18,109 housing benefit claimants and that the speed of processing claims had caused a backlog of around 7,000 claims. The report dated September 2018 also added that the average processing time was 57 days when the national average is around 22 days. 

    On Friday, the MK Conservatives issued a press release highlighting the headline figures from the report. 

    However, Peter Marland the leader of Milton Keynes Council told MKFM, "The Citizens Advice report is based on old data and they didn’t discuss the report with us before publishing it, something we are surprised about. We were made aware of a problem in the processing of new claims and have worked with LGSS (Local Government Shared Services) to resolve the issue, and have put significant resources into doing so. The backlog of claims was cleared by March 2018. The number of days to process a claim has also fallen significantly."

    He continued, "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."

    MKFM understands that the council's aim is to have the average processing time down to 24 days by the end of this year.

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