Since the coalition government introduced austerity in 2010, Oldham council has had £208 million removed from its budget. It is the sixth-most cut council in the country.
The council has been forced to make difficult decisions around which services to reduce, with options limited by the large number of statutory services that have to be provided.
One outcome has been a reduction in council-led youth services, with an increasing reliance on community-led provision.
GM Police has seen budget cuts of £180 million over recent years, reducing officer numbers by 2,000 as well as 1,000 other staff.
The Problem – for communities
While levels of employment remain high, in-work poverty is increasing and many families are struggling.
Oldham’s communities remain strong, but we are not immune to national patterns of rising crime, tension, and a sense that the future is not as bright for young people as it was for previous generations.
Knife crime may not be prominent in Oldham, but concern about young people carrying weapons is high (particularly amongst young people themselves).
The changing nature of crime (such as cyber-crime) also creates new pressures on residents and the already stretched Greater Manchester Police.
Holding community consultations to understand the sources of anti-social behaviour and tension between groups, creating collectively owned solutions.
Campaigning for improvements to 101 services, and investment in officers focused on community policing. A long-term, sustainable solution needs to be found for police funding, but while the GM police precept is used to cover shortfalls it must be directed towards frontline services.
Advocating for greater investment in our young people, from the council and other organisations in the borough, building a network of support and opportunity. Young people should be at the heart of decision making across the borough, and particularly on issues like youth services that affect them so directly.