Kensington & ChelseaNews

Council keeps overspending to compensate inconvenienced tenants

By Adrian Zorzut, Local Democracy service

Kensington and Chelsea council has blown its housing compensation budget four years running after paying council tenants £421,000 for issues related to repairs and things like temporary heating payments.

Local authorities pay out compensation to tenants in council-run or council-owned accommodation where there has been an inconvenience or an added cost has fallen on the resident.

Some of these payouts are the result of a formal complaint being lodged while others are handed out where the council deems it to be a fair redress due to issues caused by things like breakdowns of central heating systems or other property infrastructure.

Between December 2021 and May 2023 – the most recent dates for which a more detailed breakdown of data was available – the council spent £62,000 on payments for delays to repairs.

Disputes costs the council £10,399 while incomplete works cost them £8,651 in compensation in that time period. The West London council said the figures include compensation for additional costs to residents such as the use of an electric heater while works are carried out on central heating systems.

It added the figures reflect a 2023 Housing Ombudsman’s report showing a national upward trend of housing complaints. The data also shows the local authority has struggled to remain within its housing compensation budget since 2019. From 2020 to 2023 it spent £421,067 on compensation.

In 2020, it spent £39,900 – almost double the £21,000 it had set aside. That figure nearly tripled to £124,585 in 2021 and jumped again to £157,402 in 2022, blowing the newly increased budget of £76,500 per year by 63 per cent and 51 per cent respectively, according to analysis.

In 2023, it reached £99,180 – 30 per cent above the allocated amount. Worlds End Estate in Chelsea was the worst-hit accommodation with the council spending £15,401.22 in pay-outs between 2021 and 2023.

Kensal New Town was next with £9,771.17, followed by Swinbrook, at £6,215.31. There have been 309 cases receiving compensation across all affected estates, the data shows.

The council said it increased the compensation budget to keep in line with rising costs following a review in 2022 and 2023 and bumped up the overall rate of compensation by seven per cent, to reflect the increase in rent.

Councillor Sof McVeigh, lead member for housing, said: “We have recently introduced new service standards co-designed with residents to help ensure people receive the best possible service from us by phone, email or in person.

“When we don’t meet the high standards we set ourselves it’s right that we consider options for redress, including compensation. In housing management, we have a review system to look at complaints, identify what we can do better and to implement changes.”

It comes as the council is set to register a £26m shortfall for housing and social investment this financial year, according to its own estimates.

(Picture: Pixabay)

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