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Kensington & Chelsea faces £85m housing budget shortfall

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Kensington & Chelsea RBC is facing an £85m shortfall in its housing maintenance budget, it has emerged.

report published in January last year detailing the council’s housing revenue account business plan for 2016-17 to 2020-21 estimated that it would cost £150m to maintain existing homes in the borough to the “required standard”.

But it adds that the budget for the planned programme for the period was £62.5m and highlights a shortfall of £85m.

The £10m refurbishment of Grenfell Tower was completed in May last year and included new exterior cladding, replacement windows and a communal heating system.

The report says works that have been scheduled “are the works given priority in the asset management strategy”.

It adds: “This means that during this five year period a backlog will develop of these works that have not been prioritised.”

Prime minister Theresa May has ordered a full public inquiry into the fire disaster at Grenfell Tower in Kensington.

So far 17 people have been confirmed dead, while 37 are still being treated in hospital.

Ms May said the government “stands ready to provide every assistance necessary to the emergency services and the local authority”.

She also said she wanted to reassure residents in the tower that the government will “make every effort to ensure they are housed in London and as close as possible to home”.

The report states that the council and Kensington & Chelsea Tenants Management Organisation, which is responsible for managing council-owned properties in the borough, was developing an “investment standard that sets out the hierarchy of investment and the broad standards associated with them”.

It adds: “These standards are intended to be aspirational but affordable”.

The report states that the standards were based on six categories of work. These standards are listed as: Your health and safety, keeping homes wind and weather tight, inside your home improvements to communal areas, improvements to neighbourhood and accessibility.

The report states that the standards will be “designed to fit” within budgets available in the homes revenue account business plan.

It adds that where short-term resources are insufficient to deliver the standards, works would be prioritised based on cost and deliverability on the basis of statutory compliance, physical structure, modern facilities and improvements to communal areas and neighbourhoods.

Yesterday it emerged that residents repeatedly complained about fire safety at Grenfell Tower to both Kensington & Chelsea RBC and the organisation responsible for managing the building.

Earlier this year Southwark LBC was fined £270,000 and ordered to pay £300,000 legal costs after admitting safety failings at Lakanal House, where six people died as a result of a fire in 2009.

Moving to reassure its residents yesterday, Southwark’s cabinet member for housing Stephanie Cryan (Lab) said a “huge” programme of safety improvements had been carried out to tower blocks in the borough. This included an investment of £62m in fire risk assessments and associated fire safety works, she said.

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