While many of the Covid-19 restrictions have now ended after a year and a half, it is clear that there is much to do as we look to recover further in the months ahead.
Figures released last week show that the country is moving in the right direction.
The UK economy grew by 5.5 per cent in the period from April to June of this year, higher than the previous estimate of 4.8 per cent as Britain bounces back. The entertainment, arts and recreational sectors grew by more than 20 per cent.
Of course, as Future of Aviation All-Party Parliamentary Group Chair and with Gatwick Airport synonymous with Crawley’s prosperity, I am acutely aware that some sectors have been able to open up more than others.
For our aviation, travel and tourism industries there is movement in the right direction. From 4th October, the previous traffic light system for international travel has been replaced with a two tier system: a single red list of countries and territories, and simplified travel measures for arrivals from the rest of the world.
Additional changes mean that eligible fully vaccinated travellers will no longer need to take a pre-departure test before travelling to England. Some measures are continuing as before, such as the need for all passengers to complete a Passenger Locator Form, but the changes coming in from this week will streamline international travel in a welcome boost to the Crawley and Gatwick aviation industry and the more than 10,000 local residents working in this sector.
We are not all the way there yet, however, and I know that cost of living pressures are having an impact on many. To help address these a new £500 million Household Support Fund for vulnerable households who need some additional support over the coming months with the cost of essentials is being launched.
This new Fund will be available to councils from this month and run over the winter. It will be for local authorities to distribute funding to help directly those who need it most. This can include, for example, small grants to meet daily needs such as food, clothing, and utilities.
This support is on top of the Warm Home Discount which provides a £140 rebate on energy bills each winter to more than 2.2 million low-income households, and the Cold Weather Payment which provides £25 extra a week for poorer households when the temperature is consistently below zero.
Earlier this year, Government expanded the Holiday Activities & Food programme, worth more than £220 million. This scheme has offered nutritious meals and enriching activities to disadvantaged children during the Easter and Summer holidays, and will do so again this Christmas.
Henry Smith MP