Last week saw the Government set out their response to the ongoing economic impact of COVID-19 in their Summer Statement.
There were positive elements to what was proposed, most notably the Future Jobs Fund for young workers, but nothing which in any serious way will help Crawley through its impending unemployment crisis.
Time is running out. There’s less than three weeks to go until furloughing starts winding down and employers begin letting people go, with thousands of local job losses already announced.
Crawley has more people on furlough or the self-employment support scheme than almost anywhere else. With aviation such a major part of our economy, without real action from Government many more will join the already greatly inflated numbers now forced to claim benefits in an area which once had full employment. The Government’s blanket withdrawal of furloughing from the hospitality sector alone, at a time when Gatwick is barely operating, means over 11,000 jobs in Crawley could go within weeks.
The Government must not abandon our community. We need targeted support for those industries and communities hardest hit by the lockdown, rather than the generalised approach we’ve seen so far. When a sector like aviation collapses the job losses aren’t distributed across the country in small numbers, they are concentrated in one or two places. That is why Crawley’s economy has been identified as being the most at risk in the UK for mass-unemployment.
As we have been arguing for months, we need solutions which address the immediate risks and build for the long-term. Right now, Crawley needs a targeted deal to sustain the jobs of those in the aviation sector, this could be with conditions around their tax status or greening the industry as has happened in other countries. While for the long-term we need to build a more diversified local economy, particularly around green technology as a sector which is set to grow massively over the next few decades.
Crawley’s jobs can be saved and we can create better opportunities for the future, for that to happen we need Government support and they’re running out of time.