Cllr Peter Lamb, Leader of Crawley Borough Council, has warned that the Government is running out of time to save the town from mass-unemployment.
It is over two months since the Centre for Cities’ analysis showed that the lockdown had put 57% of employment in Crawley at risk, a far larger proportion of jobs than anywhere else in the UK.
Universal Credit claims in Crawley have increased by almost 500% since the lockdown, with large local employers such as British Airways, Easyjet and Virgin Atlantic, and Swissport all announcing major redundancies.
At the same time, Crawley has been named the ‘the furlough capital of England’ with over a third of the town’s workforce either furloughed or claiming the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme. With furloughing being wound down from August and Government restrictions continuing to prevent the town’s major industries from generating a profit, we have less than two months before Crawley experiences mass-unemployment on a scale the town has never seen before.
Yet, despite letters and direct discussion with the Government on the crisis facing the town, so far Crawley has received no commitments of support for avoiding economic disaster.
With the Government reportedly postponing its next full budget until the autumn, the concern now is that the too-little, too-late approach taken to preventing COVID-19 deaths, will now be seen in a too-little, too-late approach to saving Crawley’s jobs.
Speaking about the crisis, Cllr Lamb said::
“Crawley can’t wait till autumn for action, we have less than two months to save people’s jobs. I’ve grown tired of letters from ministers telling us they understand the problems we face, while promising nothing. Crawley will not forget if they fail to act to now to avoid years of suffering. The clock is ticking.”