Henry Smith MP – Westminster Report – August 2020
The recovery of the aviation sector has been a main focus of my work in Parliament this year. With Gatwick Airport in our borough’s boundary, we need to ensure that interruption faced by this industry is not only brief, but is followed by a swift bounce back.
In Parliament I have established and Chair the Future of Aviation Group, a cross-party coalition of MPs supporting the industry and urging the Government to take action to support Britain’s world-class aviation sector.
It is estimated that it could take a number of years to get international travel figures up to 2019 levels. We have heard the warnings, and it is time for action. The Future of Aviation Group’s Aviation Recovery Plan, which has protecting jobs and supporting businesses at its heart, should be introduced by the Government without delay.
The points included in our plan are;
- 1: Introduce COVID-19 testing
- 2: Introduce regional travel corridors
- 3: An employment support package to March 2021
- 4: Support the green recovery
- 5: Take action on business rates
- 6: Temporary suspension of Air Passenger Duty
- 7: Support for UK travel inbound tourism
- 8: Absorption of CAA/NATS charges for 2020-21
- 9: Airspace modernisation
- 10: Bring forward public procurement and accelerate public investment
Through the adoption of these and other policy recommendations we are making, Government can be sure to reduce the scale of disruption of COVID-19 on this important industry for Crawley and UK-wide.
Widening the free flu vaccine: As part of plans to ensure the NHS is prepared for any second coronavirus peak, and to help relieve winter pressures on A&E and emergency care, the flu vaccination will be rolled out to an unprecedented number of people in the months ahead.
Eligibility will be significantly widened to include people aged 50 to 64, who will be invited to have the jab later in flu season.
The free flu vaccine will also be available to people on the shielded patient list and their households, people over the age of 65, pregnant women, those with pre-existing conditions including at risk under 2s, as well as all school year groups up to year 7.
New opportunities for young people: T Levels are two year technical education courses for students aged 16 to 19, with each T Level the equivalent of three A Levels. The course will include a high-quality industry placement of at least 315 hours (approximately 9 weeks) of ‘on the job’ experience. This opportunity will allow students to use the skills learned in the classroom and put them into practice.
Not only will this help to distinguish T Levels from other qualifications, the new programme will give young people the skills they need to progress; whether they go into employment, a higher or degree apprenticeship or further study, a T Level will be an important part of their journey.
Crawley College will be one of the pioneering institutions who will be providing T Levels in 2020-21. I want to thank the staff and management at Crawley College who have, in spite of the global pandemic, worked to ensure that new technical qualifications in Childcare & Education and Digital Production, Design & Development are open to students in our area at the earliest opportunity.
Crawley Coronavirus Community Champions: There are many people in Crawley, from our key workers in the public and private sectors to individuals and groups volunteering in the community, who have gone above and beyond during this pandemic.
It is right that we also recognise and thank those volunteers who have played such an important role in helping others at this time, which is why I am asking for nominations for Crawley Coronavirus Community Champions.
People who queued up and did the shopping for a neighbour, those who dropped off and collected prescriptions for vulnerable friends, or if you helped provide supplies or meals for frontline workers; you deserve our thanks. Anyone living or volunteering in Crawley qualifies and if you know of any organisation or individual deserving of recognition, please email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
VJ Day 75: An honour to join local veterans to remember the 75th anniversary of the end of the Second World War.
International leadership on wildlife and the environment: The UK must be at the forefront of protecting the world’s natural habitats.
NHS funding boost: Surrey & Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust to receive £2.2 million to upgrade hospital A&E facilities ahead of winter.
This funding means that the Trust covering Crawley will be able to increase its emergency capacity, put enhanced infection prevention and control measures in place and make improvements to urgent treatment services.
Across England, the Government is providing £300 million to A&E departments, with work to be completed by the start of next year so hospitals can benefit from the upgrades during the peak of winter.
Supporting our economy: Government has directly supported 23,600 local workers furloughed through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and 4,400 self-employed people across our town through the Self-Employment Income Scheme.
More than 1,400 local businesses have been backed through offers of Bounce Back Loans, with support for local businesses also coming from offers of 80 Government-backed Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme facilities.
Sussex bolstered by 114 extra police officers: Getting more police officers onto our streets is a priority. Over recent years Crawley officer numbers have remained stable, so these additional police men and women will be a further boost for our town’s safety.
I am grateful for the commitment of the Sussex Police & Crime Commissioner, Katy Bourne, to keep our local area safer by recruiting more police officers.
Eat Out to Help Out: The Eat Out to Help Out scheme has been a great way to boost local businesses and protect jobs across our hospitality sector – which has been hard hit by coronavirus – while allowing families to keep more money in their pockets. In the south east of England, there were 6,396 participating independent establishments, and outlets from smaller chains (those with 25 restaurants or fewer). More than 72,000 establishments took part in total, including independent eateries and family favourites such as Pizza Express, Costa Coffee and Nando’s.
Services make up more than 70 per cent of UK GDP; higher than France, Germany and Spain for example. Support for this sector is particularly important, with the popular Eat Out to Help Out scheme providing a welcome boost.
Best Small Shops Competition: Calling on our small shopkeepers to enter and celebrate the successes of small shops and the central role they play in their local community, particularly in response to COVID-19.
With my best wishes
Member of Parliament for Crawley