The avoidable atrocity of the Grenfell Tower fire revealed the stark truth about Kensington & Chelsea to the world. How, in what one Councillor had called ‘the richest borough in the universe’, with £.3bn in Reserves, could 72 people burn to death in a fire which, even in the earliest days, was blamed on ‘cheap cladding’?Emma Dent Coad in the report released today.
Today Emma Dent Coad has released ‘The most unequal borough in Britain – revisited : Inequality and inequity in Kensington and Chelsea,’ which is a major update of her groundbreaking report into inequality in Kensington and Chelsea with a new introduction. You can read the full report here, and Labour Outlook caught up with her quickly this morning to ask her a few questions about the report and the current situation.
1) Tell us about the key reasons why you have published this report and its key findings?
Golborne ward in North Kensington, the ward I represent as local Councillor, is the poorest ward in London. There is no excuse for this depth of poverty in a borough of princes and plutocrats.
I always like to have evidence to back up the sense of outrage that I, and so many politicians quite rightly express. This report is an update of a shorter one published in 2014 (reprinted at the back) and is a baseline of where we are now. Inequality has grown in the past six years and in K&C there is little to justify this. The fine detail of this report will prove very helpful in future.
As we listen to jaw dropping evidence from the Grenfell Inquiry you may wonder how this all happened.’Read the report and judge for yourself.
2) Has inequality there got worse in your opinion during the current crisis?
We know that food banks here in Kensington and Chelsea are working at pace to feed those who can’t afford to feed themselves. Kindness, groceries, hot food, and keeping an eye on neighbours are more in demand than ever. Advice agencies and law centres can barely keep up with inquiries. We can’t be sure how this will play out long-term, but currently the situation is dire, and many are struggling with their mental health.
3) What are the key measures moving forward you think can be taken to tackle inequality, both locally and nationally?
I’ll be speaking to colleagues on the Council but am considering a number of ways to target services in neighbourhoods where we can see specific needs; small interventions working with local people can be highly effective. As I analyse the Council’s budget there are still savings to made through better prioritising of funds.
It’s clear the Tories are perfectly at ease with disgusting levels of inequality across the country. We need to do things differently – putting people’s health, jobs, homes and livelihoods at the centre of our economy and society.”