Crawley Observer Column, Wednesday 9th June 2021

Throughout the pandemic, whenever mistakes have been uncovered we’ve been told that the Government has never had to deal with anything like this before, so we should give them the benefit of the doubt.

For the UK, it is true that we haven’t had to deal with a pandemic like this in a century. Where this argument collapses is that we aren’t alone in going through COVID-19, in fact we were one of the last major economies to contract the disease. Yet, despite all the opportunities to learn from the actions of other Governments and the strong advantage we had as an island to minimise the spread of the pandemic, when you compare our Government’s performance to that of others their record has been abysmal.

So, why bring this up now? Because the UK is about to make a huge mistake again. Last week the Government’s own Education Recovery Tsar Sir Kevan Collins resigned after it was revealed that the amount the Government was prepared to spend on educational recovery was one tenth of what he had identified. Again, the Government is letting Britain fall behind.

We are not only letting our children down, this affects all of us. Education is the bedrock of future economic performance, a stronger economy delivers greater opportunities for everyone and greater tax revenue, enabling better public services and paying down the debt the country has accrued through COVID-19.

The word ‘invest’ is often thrown around in politics to describe expenditure, but education spending is a genuine investment in that it pays back far more than what the country spends on it. To fall behind other major economies in this investment now is to yet again force Britain to compete with one hand tied behind its back.

Children in Crawley deserve better. We already have the lowest social mobility in the South East and COVID-19 has greatly reduced the strength of our local jobs market. We need to take our children’s future seriously and that’s why I’m pleased that Labour has put forward an alternative Children’s Recovery Plan which would genuinely deliver for Crawley’s children.

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