Kensington & ChelseaNews

Grenfell campaigner demands transparency from council over trauma recovery spending

By Hannah Neary, Local Democracy Reporter

A Grenfell campaigner is demanding to know exactly how a council is spending money on helping people recover from the trauma of the fire.

A spokesperson for families of the bereaved and survivors says Kensington and Chelsea council should be more open about its £50 million project aimed at helping residents recover from the long-term effects of the tragedy.

The council has agreed to spend £50 million between 2019 and 2024 on supporting survivors of the tragedy, which happened in June 2017.

Over 700 residents are using a range of services including support for mental health and housing, help with English language and art therapy.

A meeting was held on Monday, November 22, to discuss a report by council staff looking at the success of these services so far.

Kimia Zabihyan from The Grenfell Next of Kin said the council should be more transparent about the value for money of the services and whether they are really helping people.

She said: “Four and a half years on there’s no value for money, the metre’s ticking. Yet we’re told that there’s huge satisfaction from the victims.

“I don’t think you’re really willing to answer any questions.

“We need outside auditors – someone independent to come in and go through these records and tell us where the money’s gone.”

The report includes surveys with feedback from people who have used the services.

Ms Zabihyan told officers: “You’re just burying people in lots of paperwork and repeating the same thing over and over again.

“You’re not being honest with people. You’re designing these surveys without telling people how much the whole thing is costing.”

Callum Wilson, director of Grenfell Partnerships said the council has been open about how it is spending the £50 million on recovering from Grenfell.

He added: “People are aware of how much the service has cost.

“To date, we haven’t spent all of that budget because the bereaved and survivors have been keen for us to put money aside.

“Today we’re probably closer to about £12 million.”

Andrew Ling, a member of the council’s audit and transparency committee, which monitors the council’s spending, said: “We do seem to be talking at cross purposes with each other.

“My main concern boils down to what more can be done to show that the money that has been spent efficiently and effectively to actively get the community behind the project.”

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