Authority, criticised for response to Grenfell Tower fire, ran budget surplus and gave tax rebates to better-off residents in borough.
The Conservative council responsible for the tower block where at least 79 people died in a fire described by the mayor of London as preventable has stockpiled £274m of reserves and offered rebates to residents paying the top rate of council tax.
According to the latest accounts, the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea ran a budget surplus, which Labour councillors have claimed was being used as a slush fund to bribe voters with a rebate close to elections.
A draft statement of Kensington and Chelsea’s accounts for 2016-17 disclosed that the council has an “AA” credit rating and a financial standing described as robust, with “usable reserves at 31 March 2017 of £274m (£300m at 31 March 2016)”.
The council has been relieved of responsibility for taking care of the survivors of the disaster, having struggled to cope with the aftermath of the deadly blaze. A new Grenfell fire response team, made up of representatives from central government, the British Red Cross, the Metropolitan police, London-wide local and regional government and the London fire brigade, will now coordinate efforts.
In 2014, the council decided to hand back £100 to residents paying the top rate of council tax in 2014 after a claimed “overachieving efficiency drive”, a decision criticised in a letter to the Guardian following the high-rise fire.