Responding to the challenges and supporting our economy

The coronavirus pandemic led to an unprecedented response from the public sector, businesses and community groups throughout Crawley and UK-wide.

The Chancellor spoke last week about how ideology and dogma has been put aside in our nation’s economic response to COVID-19.

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.

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.

The initiative is a fantastic way to support this sector and protect jobs in the hospitality industry while helping families to keep more money in their pockets. It offers up to 50 per cent off their bills in restaurants, cafes and pubs on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays throughout August.

It is part of the Government’s Plan for Jobs which will spur our country’s economic recovery from COVID-19, and applies to food and non-alcoholic drinks, with a maximum discount per person of £10.

For details of venues which are participating, including almost 6,400 independent establishments in the south east of England and outlets from smaller chains, please visit my website: www.henrysmith.info.

We all want to avoid a second national lockdown and the Government’s new strategy uses the ability to target interventions in a much more nuanced way. This is the success of the track and trace operation and testing capacity, meaning intervention can take place at a local level at an earlier stage and be much more targeted.

So far this is working and is very much how ministers plan to deal with the situation going forward.

There can be no room for complacency with regard to coronavirus or any other healthcare issues. This is why it is welcome that Surrey & Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust is set to receive an additional £2.2 million to support A&E capacity ahead of the 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.

While it is right that we hope for the best, it is essential that we plan for the worst. This support will ensure that we are in the best possible position for any challenges that the winter months may bring.

Henry Smith MP