The latest housing association scandal is probably the worst so far. Notting Hill Housing and other ‘registered providers’ delayed the permanent rehousing of Grenfell survivors while they held out for a £40m deal with Kensington and Chelsea Council to pay them for doing what they’re supposed to do – house people at social rents.
One household explained to members of the committee against the Notting Hill housing/Genesis merger what happened. They were offered a flat by Notting Hill Housing. But NHH wanted more than double the £90 rent they had been paying K&C for their Grenfell flat. The £200 rent that Noting Hill Housing demanded is well above a social rent. Even though a solicitor became involved, NHH refused to budge.
Kensington and Chelsea, on some estimates the richest borough in the UK, can afford £40m. In June 2017 their budget surplus was £274m. Because public housing is off the agenda of wealthy Tory councils, and plenty of Labour councils too, especially in London, K&C found themselves in a tight corner. They had no housing to offer Grenfell survivors. They weren’t about to requisition any of the 1,652 private and housing association empty properties in the borough either, so they had to turn to housing associations for help.
The deal went through in late September, according to K&C Labour councilor Monica Press. On 17th September, three months after the fire, 2 survivor families out of 150 were reported to have moved into permanent accommodation. On 29th Sept, the K&C website said that 53 offers of permanent accommodation had been accepted.
This heinous delay is still happening. It’s because our landlords’ vision of the Grenfell tragedy is of nothing more than a handy income stream.