Oldham’s six-point strategy to recover from Covid-19 pandemic

Bosses have laid out a six point plan for how Oldham will recover from the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic.

At the first meeting of the cabinet of the new municipal year, members agreed to endorse a new Covid recovery strategy which will shape the work of the town hall for the next 18 months.

The strategy sets out ambitions in six areas; driving equality, investing in quality housing, championing a green recovery, creating and protecting jobs and supporting businesses, prioritising education, skills and early years, and promoting health and wellbeing, including protecting the most vulnerable.

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It was informed by a public consultation carried out in February and March which saw 600 people take part.

Focus groups were also held with groups including parents of school aged children, black and minority ethnic residents and business owners.

The responses showed that 84pc of those taking part had been affected by social isolation and 77pc felt their mental health had been affected by the pandemic.

More than half of respondents said their work or employment situation had been directly affected and 63pc of people had been forced to isolate.

The meeting was told that unemployment had doubled in the borough over the past 12 months.

Speaking as she chaired her first cabinet meeting as council leader, Councillor Arooj Shah said: “The strategy seeks to identify the key things we need to focus on based on evidence and data.

“It also reflects what local people have told us about how the pandemic has impacted them, their families, their livelihoods, and about what they think we should be prioritising as an organisation.

(Image: Joel Goodman)

“Oldham we know has been hit harder than many other areas and been bit harder with the number of cases, with unfortunately and tragically deaths, with long term physical and mental health impacts.

“But it’s also been hit harder in many other ways, with more people being furloughed, made redundant and having to close their businesses for longer than other areas.

“We also know that Oldham’s school children have been hit harder with more time out of school.

“I am clear that everything that this administration and this council does has to be focused on improving the lives of our residents.

“With so many people struggling in so many different ways as a result of this pandemic, this has never been more important than now.”

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As part of the strategy the council will fund a ‘poverty truth commission’ to develop ‘new ways to help people who are struggling’.

It will also see housebuilding by the council sped up to deliver new homes in the town centre.

Coun Hannah Roberts, cabinet member for housing, told the meeting that the numbers of people who have fallen into rent arrears as a result of the Covid emergency was ‘quite scary.

“I’m happy to be able to say the small sites programme where we’re going to be building council owned homes is progressing and we hope to be in a position to submit planning applications soon,” she added.

The plan will be voted on by all councillors at a meeting of the full council on July 14.

Manchester Evening News – Oldham