Cllr Fielding and Cllr Shah
Cllr Fielding and Cllr Shah

Days after local Conservatives were celebrating a so-called “world-leading economic response to Coronavirus,” new data has revealed the true picture of the pandemic’s impact, and the government’s failure to properly support jobs and livelihoods.

The latest data from the Office for National Statistics shows the number of people in Oldham claiming unemployment benefits has almost doubled in the two months up to 14th May, increasing from 7,530 to 13,660 people. Youth unemployment has also increased by 21.3% in the last month.

Cllr Sean Fielding, leader of Oldham Council, said: “These new unemployment figures show the scale of the challenge we face, and I’m worried that things will get worse before they get better with the government talking about cutting its furlough scheme.

“There seems to be a level of complacency that we absolutely can’t afford. In Oldham we’re determined to build back better, and we’ll invest to do that, but it’s impossible without government support.”

Cllr Fielding has appointed a dedicated cabinet member responsible for coronavirus recovery, Cllr Arooj Shah, one of the first people in the country to hold such a role. Cllr Shah will be working with the council’s business support team, partners in health and social care and across Greater Manchester to deliver a coordinated plan for recovery in the borough.

Cllr Shah said: “Local businesses, schools and council officers are dealing every day with new guidance from government, different rules, different plans. We’re doing everything we can locally to steer the course to recovery, but we can’t do it alone.

“The government seems to be blind to the difficulties people are facing, changing course on a whim, responding to bad PR because of the wonderful efforts of people like Marcus Rashford, rather than sticking to a proper plan.”

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