The MP for Kensington has been accused of using the Grenfell Tower fire “to drive a wedge” between communities after she launched a report which says the borough “the most unequal in Britain”.
Emma Dent Coad said After Grenfell is a “crucial report on housing and inequality in Kensington and Chelsea ” which highlights overcrowding, malnutrition and varying life expectancy within the Royal borough.
But Kensington and Chelsea Council leader Elizabeth Campbell said it was “littered with factual errors” and “offered no solutions”.
Ms Dent Coad, who still serves as a Golborne Ward councillor following her shock general election victory, released her report last Monday (November 13).
She is calling on the council, which had a reputed reserve of £300 million before the Grenfell tragedy, to spend more money on the communities and people that need it.
The report looks at health and housing discrepencies.
Among the report's findings are:
- 4,500 children live in poverty, at a cost to the taxpayer of £49 million. In Queen’s Gate just 6% live in poverty, while in Golborne ward it is 51%
- Cases of Year 6 child obesity (often linked to poverty) have doubled in seven years, and due to malnutrition there has been the return of rickets
- Life expectancy in the borough is the highest in the country, with a man in the Hans Town ward expected to live till 94. But in Golborne, the average for a man is now 72, a reduction of six years since 2010. In some ethnic groups it is even lower
- Diabetes diagnoses in the borough have doubled
- Hip fractures in over 65s have doubled since 2010, to 390 in 2016
- Under 75s cancer mortality is up by a third
- Health inequality - K&C ranks first in England and Wales in health inequality, with an average of 58% compared to London’s average of 50%. In Beaufort Gardens, Knightsbridge, health deprivation is 0%, whereas in Henry Dickens Court, Norland ward, it is 65%
- There are 1,200 long-term empty homes, and 9,300 second homes; in one street seven out of 10 are second or empty homes
- One recent development at 375 Kensington High Street sold just 8% to UK registered owners, and 45% failed to reveal any country of residence
- Of the 341 net residential completions in 2015/16, the number of net social rented homes built was just 43
In her conclusion, Ms Dent Coad writes: “ A council with a third of a billion pounds in reserves should not be penny-pinching, when residents’ low pay and consequent reliance on social welfare is a direct result of their spending priorities.
“A decent-minded council would pay employees properly, and ensure contractors do the same, ensure spending council taxpayers’ money is focused on priorities which enable all residents to prosper and thrive.”
She goes on: “I will continue to work with all Kensington residents to change the narrative and review the approach to spending priorities, and to providing low-cost housing so that people on lower incomes can live near their work, schools and social networks.
“The political will is there. If we can do it in K&C we can do it anywhere.
“Let that be our legacy for Grenfell.”
Cllr Campbell said she was “disappointed” by the report.
“Using the Grenfell disaster to try and drive a wedge between our communities in the borough is opportunistic,” she said.
“This report, littered with factual errors, only tells us some of the things we know already and want to tackle in the coming years under the council’s new leadership.
“It offers no solutions - which is both surprising and disappointing for a local MP and councillor.”
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