Here is our transcript of the RBKC Question Time with Kim Taylor-Smith, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member (or “Leadership Team” member in Dizzy’s PR lingo!) for Grenfell and Housing
Some answers contain some useful links and information that may be of help to RBKC residents – which we have highlighted – as in our previous post
There is somewhat less of our commentary this time as “Kim Tailored-Sloth” appears to have made more effort than Dizzy Lizzy at answering the questions (see our previous post), but whatever anyone’s opinion of our council, its Leader or the RBKC Cabinet;; all these Question Time sessions and many of the answers provided are useful for local residents
He even answered a few questions from us and our readers. Thank you to everyone who sent the questions into us.
Question from THINK : While many appreciate the importance of ensuring that properties are fire safe, someone at the council has deliberately taken the decision to fit a new front door on tenants homes at this particular time because in their words, “everybody will be at home”, and this appears to show a complete lack of sensitivity towards residents who are vulnerable or self isolating. Can RBKC give a guarantee that they will only fit doors at this tme with the prior consent of tenants and will not force entry or unneccesarily pressurise residents into having doors fitted?
Kim Taylor-Smith: “So in sort, answer is yes – I can give that guarantee. We have always fitted new fire rated doors at every address with the consent of the tenants and having a prearranged meeting in order to do so. So with that regard, it’s important obviously that we consider people’s needs. And to reinforce the strategy, we also during lockdown, are not going to be fitting doors to any vulnerable group or self isolating tenant. So, we will further check that where we have made appointments, before those appointments go ahead, we will check with the residents to see if for any reason if they don’t want that appointment then we will not fit the door. ”
Question from resident via THINK :What are housing staff, who work with some of the borough’s most vulnerable residents, given that they are not all able to self refer or are officially categorised as clinically vulnerable by the NHS, what is the council doing to help these residents get the help they need?
KTS “Well, the soonest the crisis started, our housing management team started contacting our residents – starting with those over the age of 70, and now actually in terms – everybody over the age of 60 and anyone under that age where they have known vulnerabilities. And this will include cross-referencing with our other departments including Adult Social Care and Family Services to ensure that we identify those residents that have vulnerability.
We’ve also talked through what that support should be and completed referral forms on behalf of the other agencies, such as people like Age UK and we will continue to monitor these referrals to ensure that they are working. I mean, our team have now spoken to over 3,800 of our council residents in council homes and in temporary accommodation and we’re also offering a weekly and fortnightly call back to about 800 people. And where we haven’t been able to get hold of somebody via telephone, what we’re doing is we’re writing and we’re phoning and we’re giving cards and we’re doing deliveries but certainly if people are aware of somebody with vulnerabilities that hasn’t been contacted by the council, please let us know”.
Question from resident via THINK: Whilst it is reassuring for all of us to know that the council will not be taking legal action against anybody who falls into arrears and service charges when so many people are suffering at this time, can you please give further details amd information of what other help there is available?
KTS: “Well, if you do need financial support you may be entitled to help from the council’s Local Support Payments Plan. This is in fact what was originally launched as a Hardship Plan amd we’ve renamed that and its something that we’ve boosted by £500,000 on top of the funding that we were receiving from central Government, and you can apply for this by phoning our telephone number – 020 7745 6464 – and all of these numbers are on the council website. You also might be entitled to Universal Credit and to find out more about that you can call 0800 328 5644. And if you’re a council tenant who is struggling to pay and keep up with your rent and payments, we’ve set aside a fund to support you as well – and we stress we will not be taking any enforcement action on rent for a few months amd if you want to know more about this rent fund, please email us at
Or call the number at 0800 137 111
Again, these are all on the website
And finally, the Government has also launched an emergency package with energy suppliers to emdure that you don’t face amy addtiinal hardship in heating or lighting your home during the Coronavirus break – and we will be coordinating work across the voluntary sector to provide food, medical supplies and social support to an unprecedented number of people. And if anybody is suffering financial hardship, we always recommend to call the Hub”
We think that the Government should have some words with the energy suppliers and ban the punitive and costly key meters which cause unneccessary hardship to some of the poorest and most vulnerable by charging them more in real terms than bills for their gas and electricity.
Question from resident via THINK: Understandably, tensions between some neighbours will be running very high at the moment with many residents indoors amd shut down 24/ 7, how can the council help residents report and take actions against disturbances such as loud music or DIY going on until late in the night, if council services are not running as normal?
KTS: “Well it’s true to say that our capacity to respond to noise complaints at the moment is very limited, and we will not be visiting properties to assess the noise you are experiencing amd we’ll be trying to limit all interactions with the general public. But we will deal with these complaints on the telephone, and so if you are experiencing antisocial behaviour, then I do encurage you to call our Customer Care number which is 0800 137 111 and you can call that Monday to Friday 9am till 5pm, and anything out of hours you can call pur Noise and Nuisance Team on 020 7361 3002. All of these numbers are on the council website and all complaints will receive a call back with advice and guidance. Alternatively, you can contact our Environmental Health Team by email @environmenthealthrbkc.gov.uk or you can fill in one of our omline complaint forms and to raise your conxerns and you’ll find that again on the council website
So we will continue to take action on antisocial behaviour as our first priority is always to try to resolve issues amicably wherever possible, but if that’s not possible ten wr will take action amd in April we had to issue three warning letters for the first time and the council has also had a partial closure order approved by the Judge in response to an antisocial behaviour case.”
Question from resident via THINK: What help and support is the council offering to residents who may suffer from domestic abuse or family problems during this time? And is there any further provision of extra emergency accommodation?
KTS : “Well we’ve launched a new campaign wotking with the Angelou Support Service and the Police to help those suffering with domestic abuse during the Covid-19 pandemic – and posters hae been placed in local pharmacies across the borough and plans are underway to display them in food banks, children’s centres, GP surgeries, hospitals and supermarkets – and our interfaith forum have also been supporting the campaign.
We’ve been asking the public to make sure that information gets to victims by sharing this on social media with the hashtag #YouAreNotAlone. If you or somebody you know is afraid or worried about sexual or domestic abuse, support is available; call the Angelou Support Service – you can find their mumber on the website and their number os 020 8741 7008 and their office is open Mondays till Fridays from 10am to 6pm . And the 24 hour national DomesticAbuse helpine can also be contacted and in an emergency dial 999.
We have sufficient capacity in temporary accommodation to accommodate anybody who would need this and they would also receive the support of an independent domestic violence advisor, placed in by the Homeless Team.”
Here are some other links and numbers:
Refuge National Domestic Abuse Hotline; open 24/7, free and confidential – 0808 2000 247
If you are concerned that a child is being harmed or abused, please call the RBKC Children’s services team on 020 7361 3013 from Monday to Friday between 9am to 5pm. Ouside this time, please contact the Emergency Duty Team on 020 7373 322
Question from resident via THINK: What help and support is there for residents living in temporary accommodation?
KTS: “Well the council has made welfare calls to 99.9% to 2213 people who are living in temporary accommodation in Kensington amd Chelsea and in other boroughs across London, providing assistance with food, health and financial support where available – and during the early stages of the pandemic, we wrote to all residents in temporary accommodation to inform them of where they could get access to specific advice and support, and we followed this up with texts and letters and emails would have been sent to all residents who we had not yet made direct contact to, and we provide a follow up for all residents who’ve asked for support”
THINKers are sure that we heard the council state they had made contact with 65% of residents in temporary accommodation somewhere else….
Question from resident via THINK: “What is the council doing to make sure that providers of temporary accommodation keep people safe at this time?
KTS :”Well again, we’re working with providers of temporary accommodation to minimise health risk to both the residents and officers and supporting them with both advice and guidance with respect to restrictions on movement. And while routine repairs have had to be suspended under Government advice, we will continue to make sure that people are safe and secure and that all urgent repairs are completed and that residents are not left without security, heating and hot water”
Question from resident via THINK: Can you guarantee that households of more than two people are not being made to stay in a cramped hotel or bedsit?
KTS: “The short answer is yes – if we are aware of anybody who is in that situation they will be offered alternative accommodation”
Question via Twitter from @rosa_red_ : Have the victims of Grenfell Tower been rehoused yet as promised by Theresa May when she was Prime Minster? And if not, how is the Coronavirus affecting them?
KTS: “Well, the Coronavirus pandemic has presented many challenges to everybody and the council is working incredibly hard to support the community.
Even with this challenge, to date, 194 households have moved into a permanent home of their choice, and we have 5 further households who’ve chosen a home, but are currently in private rental accommodation waiting to move. And that leaves a further 2 individuals who had previously moved, but we are supporting to try and find a new home. The council has spent over £200million to secure over 300 homes so that people have a maximum choice available and that we have been working very hard to make these properties the best place that a family can call their own home.
We’re nearly there, but we will not be rushing the last few to meet artificial deadlines.This hasn’t been a simple task. and it was never going to be. Council staff have never stopped caring and never stopped working and we will continue to do this, until every family is in their new home amd starting to rebuild their lives.
Our efforts won’t stop there though, when they just walk through the front door. No matter where people are living, survivors will have received a wraparound support from the dedicated service, and help to make sure that they are managing as well as they can be.
We are actively contacting all our tenants and all households in temporary accommodation to understand the impact that the virus has on them and to offer support wherever we can.
Every family’s circumstance is different, and so that means our job is to understand each individual family situation and to tailor support that meets their needs”
Question from Nicola: I’m an RBKC resident and I’ve been emailing and calling the council repeatedly to ask for some deep cleaning and disinfecting in our building. It is privately owned and managed, and to date, nothing has been done – and in spite of my increasingly urgent pleas – the staff still do no additional cleaning, wear no PPE, and do not observe physical distancing. We have at least one confirmed case of Covid-19 in the building.
KTS: “Well Nicola, obviously we are really sympathetic to comcerns of all residents who are currently self isolating in very very difficult and challenging times, and obviously we are very aware of this case and we’ve been corresponding by email and although we do not discuss individual cases in public, I can confirm that our procurement team are in regular contect with your landlord, regarding the cleaning regime.
We will always seek clarity and reassurance of enhanced cleaning regimes like this where people are in TA (temporary accommodation) and where these issues are being raised by us, and we will provide details of companies that we use for providing deep cleaning to TA providers in case they would like to use them. So far, we have made over 3,800 welfare calls and checks to our elderly and most vulnerable residents and this has been very effective in giving residents an opportunity to tell us if they suspect these sort of issues are occurring and to outline what support they want and need from us – and we will continue to make these calls and give callbacks. And there is always of course the Covid-19 hub which everybody can contact. ”
Here are the details for the RBKC Covid-19 Hub:
Question from Stefan, leaseholder at Adair and Hazelwood: Our inflammable cladding is being removed at no cost to leaseholders and I’m told our windows also need to be replaced at the same time to make the seals safe. As the window replacement is clearly an intrinsic and essential part of the cladding replacement works, the cost should not be from leaseholders. Do you agree?
KTS: “Well Stefan, I don’t agree because the wimdows are not an integral part of the cladding, and tbis was clearly demonstrated when the cladding was removed, leaving the windows in place – and that we can replace the cladding without replacing the windows. However, our survey did suggest that it was a good idea to replace the wimdows as they are at the end of their ergonomic life at 27 years old, and that we can do the work together without havimg to put up scaffolding twice and the new windows obviously will be much better with greater thermal efficiency and everything else… So the window cost is a separate cost and we will be charging leasehold residents for their new windows but not for the recladding.”
Question from Stefan: Due to the current emergency, many residents are facing financial difficulty and a typical repayment of £1,100 per month over two years will cause hardship. So are RBKC able to extend its interest-free repayment period beyond the curent two years?
KTS:”Well again, yes. We understand fully – you know – of the impact of high value works being recovered from leaseholders amd the impact of this on their finances, and we’ll always try to work with individuals to find solutions without causing hardship. But given the current pandemic, we’re also acutely aware these financial things are far more pressing. So of course we’ll be happy to discuss a more flexible timeframe and I suggest leaseholders contact the Housing Management team to discuss the options or we can arrange for somebody to call you directly and I hope this provides reassurance to you that we do not expect any repayment arrangements to be finalised until such time we’ve actualy issued the invoice for the works in question”.
Thanks to all the residents who sent questions in and also to Kim Taylor-Smith for this and for answering questions from THINK and some of our readers.