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Council leader and towns MP call on Government for urgent help to rescue Crawley

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The Leader of Crawley Borough Council and the town’s MP have written to the Government calling for urgent help and listing 10 interventions to rescue the town’s economy.

This follows the recent Centre for Cities report, which forecasts that Crawley will be the most affected economy by the coronavirus crisis. The report predicts that more than 50 per cent of jobs are at risk of being lost or furloughed because the business sectors which are most adversely affected by the crisis contribute significantly to the town’s jobs and economy.

Councillor Peter Lamb, Leader of Crawley Borough Council, and Henry Smith MP have written to the Treasury, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, the Department for Transport and the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, about the unique and huge challenge for the town – and the requirement to ‘ensure that Crawley’s amazing economic success, built up over many decades, is not lost in a matter of weeks’.

The letter states:

“It is quite clear that the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on the national economy and indeed the world economy is unprecedented. However, due to the business sectors located within the town, and the proportion of local jobs and economic output from these sectors, Crawley is undeniably being hit far harder than any other part of the United Kingdom. These sectors include aviation, transportation, retail/wholesale, leisure and hospitality, all of which are likely to continue to struggle long after the lockdown is lifted.

“To prevent 57 per cent of the town’s workforce being made unemployed, it is critical that the Government takes urgent action, working with Crawley Borough Council and other local and regional stakeholders, to draw up, fund and implement a programme of targeted economic relief and investment in the town.”

Before this crisis began Crawley’s economy had been going from strength to strength. It grew by 23 per cent between 2013 and 2020, the highest in West Sussex, contributing 26 per cent of the county’s economic output, despite being just two per cent of the landmass. Over the same period, the number of jobs in Crawley grew by 13.5 per cent to reach a record 101,000, the second highest job density nationally outside central London.

Councillor Lamb said:

“Crawley generates £124m of business rates each year for the Government from its local business community. A massive economic downturn in Crawley will prove very costly to public finances. We’ve been helping the public purse for decades – it’s now time for the Government to repay that help.

“We stand ready and willing to work with the Government, business and stakeholders on a programme of investment and business relief aid to help rescue Crawley’s economy, preserve as many jobs for our residents as possible and provide desperately-needed support for our business community.”

Henry Smith MP said:

“The Crawley and Gatwick economy has been an undoubted success story for many years but the COVID-19 pandemic threatens to negatively impact the area perhaps more than any other UK-wide.

“Key aviation and travel sectors were first to take an immediate hit and will likely be the slowest to recover in confidence.

“I welcome the swift, unprecedented and significant package of measures taken by Government in providing support to people and businesses nationwide, but it is clear that there is particular, extra action that needs to be taken in support of Crawley’s uniquely adversely affected community.”

The council and MP are calling on the Government to provide business relief aid and public investment resources necessary to make this programme happen. They believe that this tailored programme should comprise:

1.     A major programme of infrastructure funding investment to mitigate falls in economic output, boost economic resilience and ultimately facilitate faster economic recovery

2.     The development of a programme of aviation industry business financial relief and support for Gatwick Airport and on site businesses – a new pillar to the Government-led programme of business support measures

3.     Grant packages direct to companies to enable business to continue to retain jobs, prepare for the uplift and be manufacturing ready

4.     Extend the ‘furlough’ employee salary scheme to help businesses meet rent and other fixed costs, akin to an emerging scheme in Denmark

5.     Invest in suitable and appropriate training and retraining opportunities including higher education, to help the workforce adapt post-crisis

6.     Improve the social security to better support those who are made unemployed in recognition that the high cost of living in the south east means many will not be able to survive if they are forced to rely upon the current benefits system, and that the town’s long history of almost full employment means there is an absence of the community support structures which might otherwise help to mitigate the impact of unemployment.

7.     Invest in R & D Grants to the plethora of manufacturing businesses to retain the capacity for ‘smart’ growth and to facilitate recovery

8.     An overhaul of Local Industrial Strategies in order to focus them on mitigating the local economic impacts of the crisis and a revamp and scaling up of the Towns Fund for Crawley, repackaging it to focus on a greater intensity of government funding investment to deliver greater business resilience

9.     Prioritise Crawley as a Green New Deal growth hub for green technological development and manufacturing, to enable long-term resilience to shocks in the aviation industry and building on the town’s business strengths in advanced engineering, construction and transportation

10. Further targeted support for our high street and retail businesses to help them adapt to the post-crisis economy.
The full letter can be read at https://crawley.gov.uk/emergency/coronavirus-information/businesses-and-employers

Coronavirus

Pandemic claims the lives of more than 5,200 people with dementia in the South East

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Orla Phipps and Grandma Agnes

A staggering 5,200 people with dementia are estimated to have died from coronavirus in the South East of England since the pandemic hit the UK in full force in March 2020.1

They are among more than 34,000 with the condition to have died in England and Wales from Covid-19, making people with dementia the worst hit by coronavirus.

In addition, new calculations from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) reveal that deaths of care home residents, where at least 70% of people have dementia, are 30% higher than previously thought.

There have been almost 12,000 (11,624) deaths since January 2021, which includes care home residents who have died in hospitals or elsewhere.

A coalition of dementia organisations including Alzheimer’s Society, Dementia UK, John’s Campaign and TIDE (together in dementia everyday), have come together to say never again will those affected face such hardship and loss.

Alzheimer’s Society’s investigation has shown the pandemic’s toll goes even further than deaths from the virus.

In a survey of 1,001 people who care for a family member, partner or someone close to them with dementia3, an overwhelming 92%4 said the pandemic had accelerated their loved one’s dementia symptoms; 28% of family carers said they’d seen an ‘unmanageable decline’ in their health5, while Alzheimer’s Society’s support services have been used over 3.6 million times since the pandemic began.

Alzheimer’s Society’s Dementia Connect support line has been flooded with calls from relatives revealing how quickly their loved ones are going downhill, losing their abilities to talk or feed themselves.

Nearly a third (32%) of those who lost a loved one during the pandemic thought that isolation/lack of social contact was a significant factor in that loss.6

People with dementia in care homes have been cut off from their loved ones for almost a year, contributing to a massive deterioration in their health.

A third (31%) reported a more rapid increase in loved ones’ difficulty speaking and holding a conversation, and quarter (25%) in eating by themselves.7

Only 13% of people surveyed have been able to go inside their loved one’s care home since the pandemic began. Almost a quarter (24%) haven’t been able to see their loved one at all for over six months.8

Alzheimer’s Society is calling for meaningful – close contact, indoor – visits to be the default position without delay from 8 March.

Orla Phipps who gave up her studies to live with her Grandmother Agnes said,

Coronavirus has affected my life and the life of my family immensely. The worry about what could happen to my grandma, if we risked having multiple carers looking after her, is the reason I become her full-time carer and left college.

Just before coronavirus hit my grandma Agnes was in a care home recovering from a hip replacement. We were very lucky that she was able to come home just before the nursing homes closed their doors. If she had been denied visits from our family, her dementia would have progressed much faster and her cognitive function would not be as good as it is today.

I have received so many comments from people who follow our TikTok account, who have lost loved ones too, many of whom had dementia and were in care homes. It breaks my heart to think of those who have died without their loved ones by their side.

We must do better by those with dementia and their families, now more than ever. People with dementia need human connection and visiting restrictions have taken this from them. Moving forward we must make up for lost time and show them the care and dignity that they so greatly deserve.”

There are an estimated 850,000 people living with dementia in the UK, including more than 134,570 in the South East

Dementia organisations, including this coalition, joined forces as One Dementia Voice in July 2020 to call for designated family carers to be given key worker status to enable care home visits to loved ones.

Family carers are integral to the care system, and to the people for whom they care – it’s they who know how to get their loved ones to eat, drink, take medicine – and are often the first to know when something is wrong.

While the Government recently announced that indoor visits will restart for one family member from 8 March, the coalition emphasises that this must be the default position and that blanket bans on visitors (where there is no coronavirus outbreak) are unacceptable.

Jacqui Justice-Chrisp, South East Area Manager at Alzheimer’s Society said:

“Coronavirus has shattered the lives of so many people with dementia, worst hit by the pandemic – lives taken by the virus itself, and many more prematurely taken due to increased dementia symptoms and, in part, loneliness. Each one leaves behind a grieving family.

Family carers, too, have been buckling under the strain. We urge the Government to support people affected by dementia whose lives have been upended, putting recovery plans in place, but also making the legacy of Covid-19 a social care system that cares for the most vulnerable when they need it.”

Alzheimer’s Society, Dementia UK, John’s Campaign and TIDE (together in dementia everyday) are calling for:

  • A Recovery Plan with the needs of people affected by dementia at their heart.
  • Meaningful – close contact, indoor – visits to be the default position without delay from 8 March.
  • An end to blanket bans on care home visits where there is no active outbreak.
  • A recognition that family carers are integral to the care system.
  • Family carers to register their carer status with GP surgeries to ensure they get vaccination priority, and call on NHS England to ensure all surgeries enable this
  • Universal social care that we can all be proud of, free at point of use, like the NHS, like education – and providing quality care for every person with dementia who needs it.

Alzheimer’s Society’s Dementia Connect Support line – 0333 1503456 – [OK2] is available seven days a week, providing information and practical support for people affected by dementia.

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