Oldhamers being "let down" after news report shows struggling families in the town

Date published: 16 February 2021

A local MP says Oldham families are being "let down" following a Sky News report showing many families struggling to make ends meet in the town.

Jim McMahon says the report shows the Government has been "cutting holes" in families' safety net, and urged the Prime Minister to stop the planned cut in Universal Credit.

In the report, Sky News spoke to Oldham residents, may of whom were relying on the benefit after losing their jobs.

The camera crew spoke to volunteers at Reel, a charity who provide food and clothing to those in need.  The library at Fitton Hill has been taken over by the charity, whilst it remains closed in the pandemic, and turned into a "crisis centre".  It provides a place to collect vital food and supplies to struggling families.

The Oldham West and Royton MP said: “Today’s Sky News report shows what many of us in Oldham already knew, that families across our town are struggling through no fault of their own and they’re being let down.

"I’m really glad that we have fantastic community groups in Oldham like Reel, but it shouldn’t be down to them to provide a safety net.

"After ten years of Conservative Governments cutting holes in our safety net, many families were really struggling before the pandemic hit. What the pandemic has done is shine a light on just how much of an impact the last decade of austerity has had.”

"We cannot go back to how it was that’s clear. What we need right now is action from Government, and they can start by stopping the planned cut to Universal Credit – which would push more of our children into poverty, extending free school meals across all school holidays, back local councils by giving them the money they need and preventing planned rises in Council Tax and give key-workers the rise they have earned."

The Government is under pressure to extend the £20-a-week universal credit uplift implemented at the beginning of the pandemic.

It is understood the chancellor, Rishi Sunak, is considering a range of options for his 3 March budget, with any final confirmation likely to come after the effectiveness of lockdown restrictions has been assessed.

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