Protecting livelihoods in challenging times

There will not be a single person in Crawley who has not been affected by coronavirus in some way. The impact is vast, and will continue to be for some time to come.

In these hugely challenging times we have seen Government schemes step in to protect the livelihoods of thousands of people throughout Crawley.

Through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, which went live less than two months ago, some 20,000 jobs have been protected, with Government grants covering 80 per cent of people’s wages, up to £2,500 a month.

This scheme will continue as people return to work. Throughout this month and next, nothing will change for employers while the Government continues to pay 80 per cent of people’s salaries.

From August, as the level of the grant is slowly reduced, employers will be required to top up the Government payment to ensure employees receive 80 per cent of their normal pay, up to the monthly cap of £2,500.

Support is clearly getting to where it is needed, but this is not to say that more cannot be done.

I am leading a cross-party group of MPs in urging the Chancellor to extend the furlough scheme for the aviation, travel and tourism industries, beyond the scheme’s conclusion at the end of October.

This is about the workers who have ensured that aviation is an economic enabler in our town. The industry will be vital in rebuilding the Crawley and UK economies. Extension of the furlough scheme will allow hard-working employees to play their part in the recovery.

Approximately 4,100 self-employed people in Crawley are receiving grants worth a total over £12 million from the Government to help with the impact of coronavirus through the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme.

This scheme is being extended for three months so people will be able to claim a second and final grant in August.

Those whose livelihoods are adversely affected by coronavirus will be eligible for further support worth 70 per cent of their average monthly trading profits, capped at £6,570 in total. An individual does not need to have claimed the first grant to receive the second grant.

I am supporting cross-party efforts to extend eligibility for assistance further to expand criteria to include self-employed single directors of ‘one-man companies’.

Nationally, the furlough scheme has retained nearly 9 million jobs, at a value of £20 billion, benefitting more than a million businesses. Over 2 million self-employed people are receiving support through the self-employment scheme.

Our country has a world-leading economic response to coronavirus. Flexibility is vital as we move through the second stage of the roadmap to recovery, to ensure stability for employers, workers and families.

Henry Smith MP