Henry Smith MP – Westminster Report – April 2020
My office is receiving significant correspondence levels regarding coronavirus (COVID-19), therefore regrettably, it will not be possible to answer every message on this subject.
Please be assured I am continuing to highlight the issues raised by Crawley residents, as well as businesses and other organisations, directly with the Prime Minister, Secretary of State for Health & Social Care, Chancellor of the Exchequer, plus other senior Government members.
For further information, including links to official advice from HM Government and the National Health Service, please visit: www.henrysmith.info/coronavirus
Given the salience of Gatwick Airport and the wider travel sector to the Crawley economy I am continuing my representations to Government about support for this industry. I am calling for amendments to the UK Package Travel Regulations to protect travel businesses, workers and customers.
At the start of last week 447 businesses in Crawley had already received grants as part of the Government’s Small Business Grants Scheme. In total, more than £6,645,000 has made its way to small firms in the area already; over £12 million is available to such Crawley firms.
For the first time in over seven centuries Members of Parliament can question Government ministers remotely as our democracy adapts to coronavirus (COVID-19).
Workplaces around the country are adapting to the challenges posed by this pandemic, and the House of Commons is no different.
This week, I am due to ask my first Commons question using this technology, on the Government’s support for innovative research in the UK and around the world to develop coronavirus vaccines. This session will be part of the temporary ‘hybrid proceedings’ where MPs in the chamber and those contributing via video link can hold ministers to account on an equal footing.
If you require assistance from the Crawley Community Hub please click here or call: 01293 438000.
Employers and the self-employed can find details of support available at: www.gov.uk/business-coronavirus-support-finder
As this is a particularly fast-moving issue you may want to click here to sign up for updates via the Government website.
Community spirit: I wish to thank all involved at the official Crawley and Sussex COVID-19 Community Hub, located at a redeployed K2 Leisure Centre. This work is vital to ensure support gets to the most vulnerable people.
Gatwick Airport’s long-stay car park has also transformed into a drive-through coronavirus testing centre, first for NHS staff and key workers.
Community spirit has perhaps never been more important in the history of our New Town. I am grateful to Crawley Town FC who will be donating more than 2,000 tickets to NHS and care staff, Royal Mail employees and supermarket workers, in addition to raffling off match-worn shirts from the record-breaking League Cup run this season with all profits going to the NHS Charities Together fund.
A few years ago I was pleased to open Inspiration Healthcare Group’s base in Crawley. I am grateful for their work, as well as that of Thales UK, in ensuring scaled-up production of ventilators to treat COVID-19 patients.
Any businesses wishing to support our national efforts to beat this virus can offer to help via: www.gov.uk/coronavirus-support-from-business
The call for even more NHS staff to help the fight against this disease has seen 20,000 retired NHS professionals sign up to rejoin the NHS, with 5,500 final year medics and 18,700 final year student nurses moving to the front line.
The transformation of ExCeL London to the NHS Nightingale Hospital, and people locally who have signed up to volunteer to help the NHS and Sussex Police, are just some of the examples of how our nation is pulling together to defeat this virus.
International action: Just as COVID-19 does not discriminate against individuals, it does not discriminate against countries either, and the UK is leading the international effort.
As a member of Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee, this month we published a report about how the Chinese communist regime’s disinformation has cost so many lives. China could have helped other nations prepare a swift response, but instead manipulated vital information about the virus in order to protect their regime's image.
We are calling for a new approach to future relationships with China and a reformed, science-led, transparent, global health alliance, putting patients world-wide as a priority, not politically convenient cover-ups.
Earth Day 2020: During the coronavirus lockdown, I have been using my Government-recommended daily exercise to enjoy our local green spaces.
Some of us may have found new parks or fields near our homes that we have never been to before, or simply gained a new appreciation for the surroundings around us.
These green spaces are so important, as they provide us with many mental and physical health benefits.
Crawley businesses receiving support: In recognition of the extraordinary pressures facing small businesses during the coronavirus outbreak, the Government launched the Small Business Grants Scheme, backed by £12.3 billion. The funding is provided to local authorities, who are then able to offer grants of up to £10,000 to small businesses, and up to £25,000 for eligible leisure, retail and hospitality businesses.
In total, Crawley has been provided with £12,102,000, which could help as many as 854 businesses across the town.
I am grateful for the hard work being done across local and national government in an effort to get support where it is needed.
Support for cancer patients during the COVID-19 pandemic: I encourage anyone in Crawley who may be concerned about how COVID-19 may affect them or one of their loved ones to please visit the Macmillan website: www.macmillan.org.uk/coronavirus
Support for people with cancer and the charities which advocate for them are areas I am continuing to follow up in Parliament.
Motor insurance premiums: The effect of the coronavirus pandemic has reached almost every aspect of day-to-day life. One of the most notable has been the lack of cars on the road, down by over three quarters, with car insurers reporting an almost 50 per cent drop in claims during lockdown.
As such, it cannot be right that insurers are set to make around a £1 billion profit from motorists unable to drive right now. Some of that profit must be shared and refunded to policy-holders, many of whom are struggling with cost of living issues as a result of the pandemic restrictions.
I am pleased to sign this letter to the Chancellor of the Exchequer calling for fairer treatment for Crawley’s motorists.
With my best wishes
Member of Parliament for Crawley