With health inequalities widening in Oldham the statement will address the need for urgent action.
The Oldham Health and Wellbeing Board, which is made up of council officers, elected members from different parties and health professionals, have decided they needed to speak on the devastating impact that poverty is having on Oldham residents.
The Board has rarely felt the need to make public statements, the last time being in 2017 when they signed an NHS statement on tobacco control, which highlights the seriousness of the situation.
Oldham Council Leader Amanda Chadderton said: “The levels of poverty we’re seeing in some parts of Oldham is just not acceptable. This cost of living crisis has taken people already on the edge of poverty well into it and those already struggling to the brink of disaster.
“Not having enough money severely impacts a person’s health. It’s as simple as that. Life expectancy, physical health and mental health, they are all affected by just not having enough money to meet basic needs, and we’re seeing more and more people in this situation.
“Myself, members of opposition parties, the NHS and other health experts are all in agreement – we need action now.”
The report will set out 6 main points that the board would want the Government to take action on:
- Act on levelling up promises – deliver investment and support for Oldham
- Support local authorities and the VCSE to meet the needs of local residents in these challenging times. Funding for local areas will be key in supporting those who are most vulnerable in their communities, including children and older people.
- Reinstitute the £20 Universal Credit uplift to mitigate the impacts of the crisis for those struggling the most18
- Take a “cash first approach” to food insecurity – as recommended by the Independent Food Aid Network. This will help prevent institutionalising food aid and uphold individuals’ dignity. This approach can be seen in the actions of the Scottish Government and in certain local authorities19,20
- Expand eligibility for free school meals to include all children in households on Universal Credit, and uplift the current level of support for free school meals to take account of the significant increases in inflation, including food and energy prices.
- Continue to provide support with the cost of energy to ensure every household has the means to meet their basic needs of heating, lighting and cooking; and provide additional support to make all homes energy efficient.