Page last updated at 09:31 GMT, Friday, 23 January 2009

Riding out the recession storm

Job centre
Unemployment in Oxfordshire rose by 14% from November to December
With the economic downturn now officially becoming a recession, much of the UK has seen businesses going into liquidation and jobs being cut for several months.

Unemployment has risen, houses have been repossessed and newspapers contain story after story of economic doom and gloom.

But months into the downturn how badly is the economic situation affecting people in Oxfordshire?

"Certainly it's made me more aware of the amount I spend," said Sadie Pickup, 25, from Witney.

"But at the same time I do have a mortgage and we have benefited from a reduction in interest rates. We've shopped around and changed suppliers for our gas and electricity", she added.

'Cutting back'

Major employers in the county have announced substantial job losses. BMW's Mini plant in Cowley has cut 380 agency workers, the Honda F1 team in nearby Brackley and Aston Martin have announced major job cuts and the collapse of Woolworths saw more people out of work.

Adnan Asharaf
Adnan Ashraf recently lost his job

As a result unemployment in Oxfordshire has risen - from 5,086 registered unemployed in November to 5,802 a month later.

Nationally figures are at their highest since 1997.

Wendy Hayes, 57, a retail manager from Yarnton said she was finding conditions much tougher.

"When customers come in now they don't buy as much - they're cutting back," she said.

Adnan Ashraf, 21, said: "I'm a salesman and people are no longer buying my product.

"They say come back in February when we've got further away from Christmas and been paid but as a result I lost my job."

The whole thing seems to have been overblown
Vanessa Pitter, administrator

In turn, Mr Ashraf said he was finding paying the bills a real worry.

"It's been difficult paying my mortgage, and as a result I've had to rent out my property and move into a cheaper one.

"I'm also having to charge lower rates than I would have done so before - the risk of repossession in the future is causing me concern."

Part-time job

Bonuses have dried up in the City, but many jobs depend on commission or bonuses. Hassan Banyani, 40, works in Cowley.

"My wages have stayed at the same level but I have a part-time job in a cinema where we used to receive bonuses on occasions; these have now be dropped.

Christine Keys
Christine Key is a pensioner, and still has a mortgage to pay

"I need to work overtime shifts in order to cover my rent, but I'm unable to find anyone who will give me overtime shifts to work. This is another change which I've seen."

Christine Key, 62, from Kidlington, said: "Because we actually still pay a mortgage and we're still on a pension, it's extremely difficult.

"The government's reduction in the mortgage was slow in coming but it has made life a bit easier", she added.

There are some, however, who think the recession has been mostly manufactured by the media.

Vanessa Pitter, a 48-year-old administrator from Kennington, said: "We haven't really felt any effects as yet; we've just tightened our belts slightly, that's all.

"The whole thing seems to have been overblown."

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