It was once a bustling centre for the textile industry with thousands hard at work in the cotton mills.The ‘apparently’ is justified by the incredible statistics:
But now Falinge in Rochdale has been branded the sick-note capital of Britain with almost half the population apparently too ill to work.
An astonishing 42.9 per cent of all working-age adults living in the council ward are claiming incapacity benefits.How is this even possible? Is there no automatic ‘Ooh, that looks suspicious!’ warning on any of these vast government databases when the number of people on sickness benefit creeps above a set level?
Yesterday, politicians, residents and community leaders rushed to defend the reputation of the urban housing estate.And it seems they’re not wrong.
But older people living in the district, who remember its industrious past, claimed there had been a relentless rise in 'work-shy scroungers' who manipulate the benefits system.
Alf Edwards, 79, said: 'Obviously some people are genuine but there are a huge number who aren't. They complain that there are no jobs around or claim they suffer some difficult-to-diagnose illness, such as severe back pain.Some people still do. But increasingly, it seems they are outnumbered…
'Once they get the doctor's sick note it is a gilt-edged passport to a life of lazing around. People just don't have pride or self-respect any more.'
Former Rochdale MP Sir Cyril Smith said: 'It has been given a title like this before and I don't believe it is true. It is a very good place to live. I've been here all my life, 80 years, and it has very good people.What don’t you believe is true, Sir Cyril? The stats come from the government, after all? Surely you can’t doubt them?
'Falinge is like every other place in that it has its good uns and bad uns. Of course the people want to work, if there is work for them.'