Oldham Council has set up the Oldham Distress Fund to support the residents affected by the explosion in Shaw on Tuesday June 26.
The Oldham Distress Fund is a Registered Charity (registered charity number 225145) which is independently audited and will discharge all money raised to those residents affected by this incident.
Any administration costs will be borne by the Council and will not come out of the Distress Fund.
Trustees of the Oldham Distress Fund are also meeting regularly to act on new applications as they are received.
Oldham Council has donated £100,000 to the official Distress Fund.
The Local Authority has agreed to inject this money from its revenue resources to help alleviate the immediate distress and hardship which the affected residents are experiencing.
An award of £125,000 has been made to Oldham Council from the Greater Manchester Disaster Relief Fund through Forever Manchester.
To date we have also received about £8,000 in public donations.
To date around £63,000 has either been dispensed in cash advances or agreed in principle as payments to be made from the official Oldham Distress Fund.
Oldham Council is also pursuing applications to other funding sources to build the level of emergency financial assistance.
So far the response has been truly inspirational.
Thanks to everyone for all your help.
Cash advances totalling £7,000 were made in immediate aftermath of the explosion to residents.
These are interest-free but repayable.
The Distress Fund was not incorporated as a charity at that stage and this money came from Council revenue resources.
These advances were made in order to help people get quick and easy access to cash and tide them over in the short-term.
The Council has committed to being very flexible regarding the repayment of these funds. We will not place affected residents in further hardship.
The Distress Fund is there for anybody affected to make a claim who has suffered loss as a result of the explosion.
To date (Friday, July 13) we have approved to pay out £63,000 direct to applications received to the Distress Fund.
The vast majority of these payments will be in recipients’ bank accounts by close of play today.
These are grants – not repayable loans.
Trustees are meeting daily to consider and act upon new applications as soon as they are received.
Oldham Council donated £100,000 to the Distress Fund to ensure funds were in place immediately to assist those facing hardship.
Forever Manchester has also donated a further £125,000.
To date we have also received about £7,000 in public donations.
Initial emergency payments from the Distress Fund were made to residents in affected properties. These were allocated on six ‘zones’ decided by:
• The estimated timescales for residents being able to access their homes;
• The extent of damage to their property;
• The length of any stay in temporary accommodation.
This was to ensure that distribution was fair to all and enabled another quick short-term payment that residents could use for any purpose.
These interim payments are not repayable.
It is important to note that anyone who received one of these payments can apply for further payments from the Distress Fund.
The Trustees are also committed to the following:
• 100 per cent of the money given to the Distress Fund will be used to support the people affected in Shaw;
• The money will go directly to where it is needed;
• No money will be taken by the Council for administration costs;
• No money will be removed or transferred to other funds
• The cost of the clean-up and recovery will not come from the Distress Fund.
Accountability and transparency:
The Distress Fund is a registered charity and will have to submit annual returns to the Charity Commission, which will also be published in full on their website for transparency.
All financial transactions will be audited by the Council’s auditors. Any suggestion that these funds could be misused is clearly false.
The Council is also actively seeking other funding sources to further support the Distress Fund.
The Trustees of the Oldham Distress Fund are:
Councillors Abdul Jabbar, Jean Stretton and Howard Sykes. Substitute Ward Members – Jenny Harrison, Mark Alcock and Steven Bashforth – will attend if any of these are unavailable.
It is important to note that individuals with insurance are allowed to apply to the Distress Fund – and should do so immediately.
However, if you do have insurance you need to take care to not make a claim that could invalidate your insurance. To clarify, you cannot claim from the insurer and the Distress Fund for the same items or costs.
However, the Distress Fund is there to assist you with any hardship not covered by your insurance but incurred as a result of the explosion. This includes, for example, the Distress Fund paying your insurance excess for you.
Applications for Oldham Distress Fund
The Distress Fund is actively inviting applications to be made by anyone affected by the Shaw explosion.
To do this, either speak to your Support Worker or contact the Rest and Advice Centre at Shaw Lifelong Learning Centre on 0161 770 7770.
Staff are on hand at the Advice Centre on Farrow Street and will help affected residents to complete the application forms for monetary support. We hope to arrange payments of monetary support granted by early next week.
Staff will also arrange for immediate financial support where required.
You can also access a range of other advice on housing, welfare benefits, plus insurance and finance advice.
As part of this process we will be coordinating items, for example, beds, sofas, cookers and white goods that residents might need and arranging for donated items to be delivered / collected for residents.
Affected residents will need to have registered at the Rest Centre at the Lifelong Learning Centre prior to applications being received.
Following the explosion in Shaw, there has been an incredibly generous response by members of the public who have donated clothes, food, bedding, toiletries etc.
Currently we have more than enough of these items to meet immediate need and are focused on managing the storage and distribution of these donations. As we identify further needs in the coming days, we will appeal for specific items on this website.