An important part of the roadmap to recovery took place last week, with the reopening of industries including non-essential shops, gyms and hair salons, with pubs and restaurants able to reopen with outdoor seating.
This unlocking will provide a timely boost for the Crawley economy, with many looking forward to that first haircut or pint.
Local authorities are being allocated a total of £56 million through the Government’s Welcome Back Fund to help councils prepare for the end of lockdown when it is safe to do so.
Crawley Borough Council is being provided with over £100,000 to help the high street reopen and attract shoppers and tourists, in addition to three and a half million pounds in direct Government aid to help fund its services.
This is part of plans to bring people back to the high street by making it easier for hospitality businesses to operate as takeaways as well as hosting markets and stalls, enabling pubs and restaurants to use their land more flexibly including by setting up a marquee, and extending pavement licenses for another 12 months so venues can continue serving customers ‘al fresco’ for longer without red tape getting in the way.
Other measures include further action by Government to tackle cowboy private parking firms; I have continued to campaign against these rogue practices which can keep visitors away from town.
An important part of this has been the national vaccination effort. The UK reached the target of vaccinating the most vulnerable ahead of schedule, meaning this country is now starting to vaccinate people aged over 45, continuing the progress towards offering all adults in the UK a vaccine by the end of July.
The Moderna vaccine is now being rolled out, meaning the UK has three safe and effective vaccines being administered across the country.
Over 32.4 million people have been vaccinated throughout the UK, including more than 50,000 in Crawley.
The last year has been a time of uncertainty for many and it is welcome that around two million of the UK’s lowest-paid workers are benefiting from the Government’s increase to the National Living Wage and National Minimum Wage.
The National Living Wage has risen by 2.2 per cent to £8.91 per hour this year, and has been expanded to cover 23 and 24-year-olds for the first time since it came into effect in 2016.
The rise means someone working full-time on the National Living Wage from April 2021 will be taking home £5,400 more annually than they were in 2010.
Rate increases are not limited to these age groups, the National Minimum Wage and Apprenticeship Wage are also going up from the start of this month.
I will continue to play my part in ensuring the recovery of our community and our country.
Henry Smith MP