The impact of Covid has been felt most keenly by hard working families at the financial margins of our society, many doing essential jobs which have kept us all going through three lockdowns. Often their ability to work from home, to afford self-isolation or to avoid redundancy is limited so that as a group, they have faced above average rates of illness and death, furlough and redundancy and may now disproportionately face the prospect of time on Universal Credit.
Covid has not affected everyone equally.
So clearly, we now need a post Covid strategy that delivers targeted help and support where it is most needed and deserved.
And yet we have a Conservative led County Council intent on….
- closing 32 out of 43 Children and Family Centers, including five in Crawley – reducing access for young families to advice, support and help.
- closing all 12 Find It Out youth advice centers.
- imposing severe cuts to day support services for learning disabled adults in 2022.
And a Conservative government intent on….
- refusing to make the £20 uplift to Universal Credit – deemed essential to keep heads above water during three lockdowns – permanent.
- prioritising Covid recovery funding on Tory marginal or Ministerial Constituencies leaving towns like Crawley, independently viewed as the worst affected in the UK, as a third-tier priority for help.
And now this. The government is manipulating the criteria by which the Pupil Premium payment is calculated. This money supports children’s academic performance where there is financial pressure at home. The assessment is calculated each January, based on the number of children in receipt of free school meals.
This year, the government has moved that date back by three months, causing a 12 month delay in the provision of support for any child who started claiming free school meals after the 1 October 2020.
A Labour Party Freedom of Information request shows that in West Sussex, between October 2020 and January 2021 the number of children eligible for Free School Meals went from 13,384 to 14,455 – an increase of 1,071 or 8%. By moving the date back, the government will not have to pay in the region of £1,440,000 to support West Sussex children whose parents have been impacted by Covid.
We all hope that as many as possible go back into employment, but the reality will be tough, and Crawley is going to need both local and national politicians that will lead our recovery not constantly pull the rug.
Vote Labour on 6th May.
Labour WSCC candidate for Langley Green and Ifield East