Oldham MP warns against Furlough removal

Date published: 27 August 2020

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is set to come to a close in October and Oldham West and Royton MP Jim McMahon has urged the government to rethink the decision and to extend the furlough scheme on a sectoral basis. "Oldham needs levelling up, and that means investment not withdrawing support. Ending the furlough scheme in October will be a mistake that could potentially devastate our town even more.

“Data from the House of Commons Library shows that there are fourteen thousand jobs – which works out at around 30% jobs – in Oldham West and Royton ‘furloughed’, the pandemic will not have gone away in five weeks’ time when the scheme draws to a close.

“What we do know is that many people on low wages, as unfortunately too many people in Oldham are, are extremely vulnerable at the moment, the Office for National Statistics shows that less than 10% of the lowest paid earners can work from home.

“I do not understand the thinking behind the government’s one-sized-fits all approach, there are certain industries that cannot, with social distancing and with government imposed limits on attendance, get back up and running at capacity. What does government expect these workers to do once the furlough scheme ends?

“Since March those claiming unemployment benefits here in Oldham West and Royton has doubled to just under seven thousand people. It’s not out of the question to say that come October it could double again, or even worse: triple.

“My office and I have seen too many instances where constituents have lost their job or self-employed people have been ineligible for support and Universal Credit – the system designed to be

our safety net – has failed them, how many more times will we see that if 30% of the town suddenly lose their jobs?

“Our retail, manufacturing and hospitality sectors will need time to get back into anywhere near a healthy state, the October cliff edge for the withdrawal of the furlough scheme will not help these sectors. It is time for government to think again, to tailor it’s approach to the sectors and employers that need help still.

“We are already in the middle of a job’s crisis; government can prevent it getting worse. There is no magic solution to the problems our town faces, and there is certainly not going to be an oven ready, one-sized fits all approach that works in Oldham and works in the other nine towns in Greater Manchester.

“Place matters and communities’ matter, Oldham was already struggling with a fragile economy before the pandemic. To remove the props and push us off down the river would be unforgivable.”


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