I continue to follow up with the Prime Minister and other Cabinet members regarding COVID-19 since I first raised the issue in the House of Commons last January.
I have been in discussions with Crawley Borough Council and the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government about the Community Hub which has been established to help those in need, please click here or call 01293 438000 for assistance.
From the companies taking part in the national efforts to ensure ventilators and personal protective equipment get to where they are needed, to those initiatives set up to say thank you to our dedicated key workers locally, we have really seen some of the best in our community over recent weeks and months.
On issues such as the aviation sector, wider support for businesses and workers as well as the specifics of the Government schemes available to employed and self-employed people, I have continued to stand up for Crawley residents with the Government.
I am very conscious of Crawley’s economy being reliant on the aviation and travel industry, especially with Gatwick Airport within our boundary, and I continue to press HM Treasury on this important sector’s behalf. This has been a key focal point of my calls to ensure greater support for our town at this time, and I have been clear that any airlines looking to close or reduce their operations at Gatwick should reconsider.
Alongside the Leader of Crawley Borough Council, I have also written to the Chancellor, the Business Secretary, the Housing Secretary and the Transport Secretary about the unique challenges facing our town. Alongside the Borough Council I am calling for ten interventions which Government can take to ultimately facilitate a faster economic recovery locally.
My action in Parliament has also included establishing the Future of Aviation All-Party Parliamentary Group, a cross-party coalition of MPs which I am chairing to support this important sector.
Our 10-point Aviation Recovery Plan has protecting jobs and supporting businesses at its heart, and should form an important part of the Government’s response to the pandemic. Through the adoption of these and other policy recommendations being made the Group, the Government can reduce the scale of disruption of COVID-19 on this important industry for Crawley and UK-wide.
For the first time in over seven centuries Members of Parliament can question Government ministers remotely as our democracy adapts to COVID-19. Workplaces around the country are adapting to the challenges posed by this pandemic, and the House of Commons is no different.
I continue to campaign for further support locally. Crawley Borough Council has been provided with £2.38 million in extra funding since the pandemic began, with West Sussex County Council receiving £74.09 million.
830 business properties in Crawley have already received grants as part of the Government’s Small Business Grants Scheme. In total, more than £12.1 million has made its way to small businesses in the area.
More than £75 million has been provided to support individuals and businesses across Crawley so far since March.
Businesses across Crawley have benefitted from over £92 million worth of loans since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak.
At this time of national emergency it is particularly welcome that police ranks in Sussex have been bolstered with an additional 129 officers in the first year of the Government’s major recruitment drive, with the Sussex Police & Crime Commissioner, Katy Bourne recruiting a further 50 officers by next year.
Below is a brief outline of my work standing up for Crawley during the COVID-19 pandemic. Please be assured of my continued attention and do not hesitate to let me know if I may be able to assist.
Henry Smith MP