As one of the economies hardest hit by the Government’s coronavirus restrictions, expectations were high that Crawley would receive significant new support in the Budget. Yet, instead of new support, the town faces millions of pounds cut from the Towns Deal funding already promised to Crawley voters before the last General Election.
With almost 23,000 residents now unemployed or stuck on furlough and SEISS waiting to see if they will have jobs to go back to, Crawley’s economy has been hit harder by the Government’s coronavirus restrictions than almost any other in the UK.
Writing to the Chancellor before the Budget, Cllr Peter Lamb—Leader of Crawley Borough Council, called for a Jobs-Focused Budget for the town, highlighting that the promised £25m of Town Deal funding would no longer be enough to significantly improve the employment crisis facing the town and raising the council’s various requests for support from the Government, such as its bid for a freeport on Manor Royal.
Yet, the Budget today not only rejected Crawley’s bids in favour of investing in marginal constituencies in the North of England, but slashed millions of pounds from the Towns Deal funding which had been committed before the pandemic hit.
Cllr Lamb said:
‘If I was a Crawley Conservative voter and I’d lost my job four months after the General Election due to the Government’s coronavirus restrictions, then I heard that my Government’s Budget not only gave all the job-creation opportunities to marginal constituencies in the North, but slashed the funding we’d already been promised before the election, I would feel utterly taken for granted.’