With almost 23,000 Crawley residents now unemployed or waiting on furlough and SEISS to see if they have a job to go back to, the Labour Leader of Crawley Borough Council has written to the Chancellor of the Exchequer calling for a ‘Jobs-Focused Budget’ on Wednesday.
Crawley’s economy has been hit harder by the Government’s coronavirus restrictions than that of almost any other town, with 6,030 people out of work, 12,528 on furlough and 4,200 claiming the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme.
In April last year, Cllr Peter Lamb—Labour Leader of Crawley Borough Council—and Henry Smith—Conservative MP for Crawley—wrote to the Government outlining the unique threat for Crawley posed by the Government’s restrictions and outlining ten ways the Government could help the town to recover.
So far, Crawley has received no more support from the Government than those town’s least affected by the restrictions. Not even the £25m Town Deal funding Crawley residents were promised 20 months ago, before the General Election, has been granted. At this time, £25m is too little, too late to make a significant difference to the town’s jobs problem.
Crawley Borough Council’s Economic Recovery Taskforce has been working with public and private sector partners to develop a comprehensive plan for getting Crawley back to work and regenerating the town’s main economic areas, but various parts of the plan need Government support to take place, these include: freeport status for Manor Royal, an Institute of Technology, Crawley Innovation Centre, and the council’s ‘Green New Deal for Crawley’.
With the furlough cut-off looming, on Wednesday the Chancellor must deliver a ‘Jobs-Focused Budget’ giving local employers the confidence they need to retain their workforce and providing the council with the support it needs to get Crawley back to work.
Cllr Lamb said:
‘On the ground, everyone is working together to try to protect jobs and attract new employers to Crawley, but there are a number of things we simply cannot do without Government support.
‘Before the pandemic Crawley’s economy was booming, growing by a quarter during just my time as Leader, the only reason families are struggling right now is due to restrictions imposed by the Government. The Budget on Wednesday is the Government’s chance to do the fair thing and show they are willing to work with us to put things right.’
Monday 1st March 2021
The Rt Hon Rishi Sunak MP
Chancellor of the Exchequer
1 Horse Guards Road
Dear Mr Sunak,
The report released today by the All-Party Parliamentary Group for the Future of Aviation has confirmed what many of us have been saying for almost a year: host towns of major airports have been hit harder than almost anywhere else by the Government’s coronavirus restrictions.
The furlough and SEISS schemes have certainly proven helpful in protecting many jobs and the business grant schemes have also helped a number of our businesses, although their level of funding and design are a poor match for the shape of Crawley’s economy. However, despite correspondence with various ministers and the inclusion of civil servants in the council’s Economic Recovery Taskforce, we have essentially received no more support for protecting and creating jobs than the communities least affected by the Government’s restrictions.
Indeed, we are still waiting for the £25m Crawley residents were promised before the last General Election, money regularly referred to by ministers in response to our requests for support. The delay in receiving our Town Deal funding has cost the town jobs, both those it would have enabled us to protect and the new employment it would have enabled us to attract. It is also worth noting that Crawley Borough Council alone will be spending £77m in capital improvements over the next year. Simply put: the Towns Deal funding is too little and too late to now make a substantial difference.
What we and hundreds of communities across the UK need on Wednesday is a Jobs-Focused Budget, one which provides employers with confidence they can retain their staff for long enough to find their feet again, and more importantly sets the ground for the recovery we need to get Crawley back to work. Until recently, Crawley had been an enormous source of tax revenue for the Treasury, the economic recovery of Crawley will be a vital step for the country in paying off the record-levels of debt the Government has been accruing.
While the council is working with public and private sector partners to deliver new employment opportunities for Crawley, there are a number of major projects which are still waiting for Government approval and which would greatly speed up the pace of the town’s recovery, saving hardworking families from years of hardship. These include the council’s bids for a freeport and an Institute of Technology, funding for the Crawley Innovation Centre, and support for the council’s ‘Green New Deal for Crawley’. Mr Sunak, let’s work together to get Crawley back on its feet, and hundreds of other communities like mine across the UK.
Cllr Peter Lamb
Leader, Crawley Borough Council