Tackling the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is something the likes of which have not been seen for generations. The Government measures which have been announced are not only unprecedented, but appropriate.

For the first time in our history, the Government will help pay people’s wages through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. This initiative offers grants to employers who promise to retain their staff, covering most of the cost of paying people’s wages.

Universal Credit and Working Tax Credits are being increased by £1,000 a year for the next 12 months, working out at nearly £7 billion of extra support.

For businesses; the next three months of VAT will be deferred until the end of the financial year; an injection of over £30 billion of cash to firms to help them pay people and keep them in work.

I continue to make representations with the Chancellor, on behalf of Crawley workers and businesses, particularly our important local aviation sector.

The strength of our community amongst many has been on full view in recent days, with efforts across our town to support those who may be vulnerable or encountering difficulties.

I have spoken with the Communities Secretary of State and the Chief Executive of Crawley Borough Council about setting up of a volunteer programme to assist those who need help – my thanks to everyone standing ready to give support.

I cannot end this column without my heartfelt thanks to Crawley’s dedicated NHS staff and key workers. Perhaps the best ways we can say thank you at this time are to follow official advice and stay at home, and to make sure that when we go shopping, we ensure there is enough on the shelves for those who look after us and those isolated in need, such as the elderly.

For more information, please watch and listen to national and local news bulletins, as well as the Prime Minister’s daily conferences from Downing Street supported by scientific and medical experts.

Advice from HM Government and the NHS, and links to the latest updates, are available on my website: www.henrysmith.info/coronavirus

Henry Smith MP