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Council tax to rise in Oldham as bosses plan cash boost for carers

Tuesday, January 25th, 2022 4:21pm

By Charlotte Green, Local Democracy Reporter @CharGreenLDR

Councillor Arooj Shah, leader of Oldham Council.

Council tax is set to rise for Oldham residents, with chiefs pledging to use the extra cash to pay more than 4,000 carers a 'real living wage'.

The budget for the 2022/23 financial year has been revealed ahead of being voted on by the borough’s councillors on 2 March. 

Bosses are proposing a total tax rise of 3.99 per cent, made up of two per cent to fund adult social care, and 1.99 per cent for council services.

It means that the average household would pay around £45 more a year to the authority.

Under the plans all carers in Oldham would be paid the foundation living wage, which would see wages rise from £9.50 an hour to £9.90, working out at an extra £768 a year.

Council leader Arooj Shah said that they needed to recognise the contribution of carers throughout the pandemic, who are some of the lowest paid workers in the local economy.

She told the LDRS: “What we wanted to do is make sure we get the best carers and attract the best people who will provide a service that is so fundamental for so many people.

“For people who are at the most vulnerable point in their life, they need care, they need love, they need support and they need compassion.

“What was really important to me was that we can’t clap for carers as we have done over the last couple of years but then not put that into action and show them that we value that by not paying them the wage that means that they can live decent lives and pay the basic cost of living.”

One Lees carer welcomed the proposed pay rise as she described living ‘hand to mouth’.

Lisa Whittaker, who works at Oakdene Care Home, said: “An extra £768 a year will mean not having to scrimp and save as much when my children need something.

“Carers generally live hand to mouth so this increase in pay is definitely a positive thing and makes us feel appreciated.”

However Coun Shah said that setting this year’s budget had been ‘even more difficult’ than normal because of the pressures of the pandemic, and the awareness of the rising cost of living for residents.

“Demand has shot through the roof,” she added.

“So many more people need help and support and we’re able to provide that, and we continue to provide that for them and they’re are some of our core vital services like keeping our children safe, and protecting our elderly, advice and financial support.

“These are the services that our people rightly deserve and rely on.

“The national funding formula is based on the fact that you bring in the maximum amount of council tax and if you don’t do that it means we can’t fund essential services that people need.”

People can have their say on the budget proposals by visiting www.oldham.gov.uk/budget

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