There will not be a single household which has not been affected in some way by COVID-19, and hardly any area of everyday life which has not been impacted by the pandemic.
A once-in-a-century crisis has led to an unprecedented response.
Government action to protect families is being backed by £200 billion. With such vast sums often quoted it could be easy to forget the scale of support, while fully recognising that we are not out of the woods yet.
Income support schemes have supported 9.2 million people stay in employment, keeping up to 80 per cent of their salaries. In Crawley, over 23,600 people have used the furlough scheme, and self-employed people locally have accessed £12.8 million worth of Government grants which do not need to be paid back.
Over 1,700 Bounce Back Loans worth more than £51.4 million have been offered under the Bounce Back Loans Scheme in Crawley, and more than 100 loans worth over £41.2 million have been offered under the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme.
I have continued to call for more support for our area and last month welcomed an additional £510,000 for Crawley Borough Council from Government. The local authority has now had £2.4 million in direct extra support from Government since the start of the pandemic to help those most in need across town.
It is of course vital that Government backing reaches where it needs to be; a point I continue to pursue with ministers.
I welcome the recent announcement from Government confirming that councils in England will be given £170 million as part of the new Covid Winter Grant Scheme.
This additional, ring-fenced funding will help vulnerable families and individuals. West Sussex County Council will receive more than £1.9 million.
A further £220 million will be invested in extending the Holiday and Food Programme until next Christmas. All children eligible for Free School Meals will have the option to join a holiday-time programme providing healthy food during the summer, Christmas and Easter holidays next year.
I am not interested in the political games which some in the House of Commons take part in – I will work with any MP of any party who can help improve the life chances of our constituents.
With this in mind I am hoping to be called to speak in the parliamentary debate taking place today (Wednesday, 18th November) on the aviation sector. It is clear that further Government support is needed for the industry.
Last week I asked the Leader of the House of Commons for an update on COVID-19 testing at UK airports. The Prime Minister’s Global Travel Taskforce is due to report shortly on this and other challenges arising from the pandemic.
Henry Smith MP