Last week I wrote about the unprecedented amount of support coming to our town from national and local government during the Coronavirus pandemic. Since then, we have had further government announcements on extending the Furlough scheme until the end of March and on a Winter Support Package.
The extension of the Furlough scheme is likely to benefit Crawley more than anywhere else in the UK, sadly due to the large number of people here who had their jobs furloughed. My colleagues and I very much welcome this extension as we do all the additional support measures announced.
The Conservative government are extending their successful Holiday Activities and Food programme by up to £220 million, as well as funding a £170 million Covid Winter Grant Scheme, ensuring families get the help they need.
The Holiday Activities and Food Programme will now run until Christmas next year, meaning all children eligible for Free School Meals will have the option to join a holiday-time programme that provides healthy food and fun activities during the Christmas, Easter and Summer holidays. Additionally, a new range of measures to support families during the pandemic are being brought in.
Councils will be given £170 million via the Covid Winter Grant Scheme to ensure that no vulnerable households goes hungry this winter. This funding will be ring-fenced to directly help the hardest-hit families and individuals, as well as provide food for children who need it over Christmas. This builds on the £63 million provided to councils earlier this year to assist those struggling to afford food and essentials.
We should also remember that those in most need are being given extra support and more money through the welfare system. The standard Universal Credit allowance and Working Tax Credit have risen by £1,000 per year for 12 months, as part of a £9.3 billion increase to the welfare safety net. This builds on the 1.7% in value of working age benefits that came into effect in April. The least well off are being supported like never before during the pandemic and political claims to the contrary are simply false.
Councillor Duncan Crow, Leader of Crawley Borough Council Conservative Group
11th November 2020