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Councillor Chadderton Published: Tuesday, 19th July 2022

Oldham Council Leader commissions Cost of Living Summit as residents feel the pinch.

A Cost of Living Summit is set to take place in Oldham next week as the council brings together residents, partners, and voluntary organisations to discuss ways that they can further support residents in need this winter.

The summit comes as the cost of virtually everything we buy in everyday life has increased and further exposed the deep financial inequalities already highlighted in Oldham by the pandemic.

According to the Department for Work and Pensions, one in three children in our borough are currently living in poverty. The latest Financial Impact Tracker results from global investment company abrdn claim that one in six UK households are now in “serious financial difficulties” due to the ongoing cost of living crisis. This is compared with one in 10 in October last year.

The only group seeing a reduction in serious financial difficulties was households earning more than £100,000 per year.

Of those suffering serious financial difficulties and struggling to make ends meet, 71% have reduced the quality of food they eat, 36% have sold or pawned possessions and 27% have not renewed or cancelled insurance.

Councillor Amanda Chadderton, Leader of Oldham Council, said: “The situation is worse than at any point during the pandemic. Times are tough for everyone but it’s residents on the lowest incomes who are feeling the effects of rising prices the most.

“Wages haven’t changed and for some they’ve not been keeping pace with inflation for years. That’s especially true of key workers – the same people we depended on during the pandemic.

“I know that Oldham residents are going to be making tough decisions this winter, if they’re not already, and if the government isn’t going to step in with a short-term plan then we need to.” 

Action Together work across Oldham, Rochdale and Tameside to create stronger communities and promote wellbeing. Oldham Director, Laura Windsor-Welsh, spoke about why she’s keen to attend the summit: “We really welcome Cllr Chadderton’s call to action on the cost-of-living crisis. Action Together, working alongside hundreds of charities and community groups in Oldham, see the day-to-day impact that the crisis is having on Oldham residents and Oldham communities. The steep rise in inflation coupled with the astronomical hike in energy costs means that those families that were just getting by are no longer able to and those who were previously struggling are in an untenable situation.

"Since September 2021, we have been working alongside local people in Oldham who have lived experience of poverty, bringing them together with leaders and manager from Oldham Council and Health Services, on the Poverty Truth Commission. Working together to understand directly from those who have experienced poverty, what needs to change in Oldham to tackle the root causes of poverty. We hope that the work of the commission, as well as the day-to-day work of Action Together and the Voluntary Sector, will impact decisions made and action taken at the summit to support Oldham residents through this crisis.”

Since abrdn’s last survey in October, single parents have been hit hardest financially, with the proportion in serious financial difficulties rising from 23% to 37%. Those on the rental market have also been hit particularly hard.

The research revealed that in a rapid decline in living standards since January this year, 31% had reduced the number of showers or baths they had taken and 60% had avoided turning on the heating. Also, 33% had reduced use of the cooker and 24% had heated only part of their home, due to soaring energy costs, which look likely to surpass £3,000 a year in October, with the setting of a new energy price cap.

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