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Vital Signs MK

Milton Keynes 2013 - 2022

Watch this year's Vital Signs launch:

What is Vital Signs?

Vital Signs is an annual publication designed to identify and spotlight issues facing the communities of Milton Keynes (MK).

This year marks the 10th edition, the first Vital Signs Report was published as a news sheet in 2013. We have taken the opportunity in this year’s report to review how MK has changed over the past years, identifying it’s strengths and the challenges we face.


The concept of ‘Vital Signs’ was pioneered by the Community Foundations of Canada.  The aim is to support local Community Foundations create fairer communities by using evidence-based data and insights into local needs. 

Vital Signs is produced by Milton Keynes Community Foundation, an independent charity with a mission to connect people with resources, skills and ideas to enrich lives, and to create positive growth for Milton Keynes.

We use this report to advise individuals, families, and businesses in their philanthropic aims. Enabling them to direct their giving to where it’s needed most and can make the most impact.

Over the last 10 years Milton Keynes Community Foundation has distributed over £9.8 million in grant funding and provided Voluntary, Community and Cultural Sector organisations with a further £8.6 million of rent subsidies.



Vital Signs focuses on 12 major themes and combines published data with observations from local community organisations to shed light on the lived experience in Milton Keynes.

The themes are aligned with the goals of the United Nations 2030 Sustainable Development blueprint. 

This is a call for countries to take actions to help reduce global poverty, reduce inequality, and at the same time tackle climate change.

There is thus a close alignment between these goals and those themes reported on in Vital Signs.

Our Value Statements


  • Fairness: We seek detailed understanding to make the right decisions
  • Assistance: We share our expertise and referrals for those who need advice
  • Inspiration: We communicate our unique proposition passionately and with hope
  • Reliability: We deliver what we say, when we say

Our Strategic Goal is to build a resilient, creative, inclusive and philanthropic community.

Looking Back

The 2022 report aims to provide context to the progress made in Milton Keynes over the past 10 years in increasing fairness, reducing poverty and inequality and tackling climate change.

Successes and Challenges since 2013

With a population growth rate of 15% between 2011 to 2021, Milton Keynes is one of the fastest growing places in the UK.

Compared with the average in the UK the city continues to have a high proportion of young people and the proportion in older age groups is growing more rapidly.

As with the rest of the UK, there are higher proportions of people from Ethnically Diverse communities than in 2011.

These changes are creating the need for services, resources and policies that support all communities to thrive.

The design of Milton Keynes provides easy access to pleasant, green spaces for most residents, with the associated physical and mental health benefits.

The disadvantage of the low-density layout is widespread car use, which creates high levels of emissions, contributing to global heating. Given the current climate emergency and the Government aim to reach Net Zero by 2050, mitigating actions are a priority.  

Over the past 10 years there has been growth in well-paid, higher skilled and specialist jobs in high tech and digital industries, and also growth of insecure and low paid work.

This, combined with a shortage of affordable housing is contributing to financial hardship, food and fuel poverty and high numbers of children living in poverty – threats to the wellbeing of residents and to equitable growth.

Education is under-delivering in enabling individuals from poorer backgrounds to get good jobs and to progress into Higher Education. To reduce skills shortages around knowledge-intensive jobs, employers are looking for education and training offerings that deliver relevant skills.

Violent crime, often a symptom of complex issues around disadvantage and exclusion, has risen since 2013.

Those who live in the more deprived communities are more likely to die younger and to experience poorer physical and mental health than residents living in the least deprived communities.

As in the rest of the country, young people, especially those from poorer communities, are experiencing challenges around their mental health.

There is a strong local commitment to increasing inclusion and diversity across arts and heritage organisations and to strengthening the sector for the benefit of residents.

There remain many challenges around funding and resourcing and concern that the current cost of living crisis will have a negative impact on participation.  

Since 2013 the value of cross-organisational and partnership working to address challenges faced by some communities in Milton Keynes has been clearly demonstrated.

Partnerships addressing child poverty, homelessness and the arts and heritage sectors, for example, have helped service providers share best practice, offer a more personalised approach and strengthened their common understanding of the issues facing residents.