As the situation regarding coronavirus continues to change, events mean that the national economic response must alter accordingly.
In Parliament I have been lobbying Government for further support for the aviation sector since last January. This affects workers not just in Crawley and the Gatwick area, but the UK-wide economy too.
Over recent months I have urged ministers to extend the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme for this sector, to ensure aviation employees could continue to be furloughed, and to see that these jobs are supported as the industry recovers.
I welcome the decision of HM Treasury in recent days to extend furlough for not only the aviation sector until the end of March 2021, but to extend the programme in its entirety until that date.
The Treasury have confirmed that the scheme will continue with 80 per cent of wages for hours not worked being covered by Government, with employers only having to cover National Insurance and employer pension contributions.
Extra support is also being provided for self-employed workers, with government backing to the self-employed at an overall level of 80 per cent of trading profits for the third Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) grant which will cover the period from November to January. This will be paid out in a single instalment and capped at £7,500, with the Chancellor also advising that there is to be a fourth SEISS grant for the period of February to April.
The further support announced last week builds on the £200 billion package of measures which Government has already committed to tackle COVID-19, which includes loans, grants, tax cuts and deferrals, mortgage holidays as well as increases to the welfare system.
This support is of course welcome but we cannot take the recovery for granted.
As founder and Chair of the Future of Aviation All-Party Parliamentary Group I continue to make the case for sector-specific support. The industry is essentially going to experience three winter seasons, particularly with the new November lockdown restrictions in place.
Furlough was one part of our Group’s 10-point Aviation Recovery Plan which was submitted to the Transport Secretary in August.
I have continued to pursue the issue of Air Passenger Duty, a tax on flying which hits families and businesses alike. It is more important than ever that this charge is suspended until the autumn of 2021. Progress on this, and the issue of coronavirus testing for passengers, will help the sector recover and support jobs in Crawley.
Henry Smith MP