Forty one per cent of town’s eligible workforce has been furloughed in the last year

A taskforce set up to plan for Crawley’s post-pandemic future has outlined some of it’s aims for the town’s future.

Friday, 12th March 2021, 5:11 pm
Crawley town centre. Pic Steve Robards

The Economic Recovery Taskforce, which brings together the council, senior business and voluntary sector representatives, Crawley’s MP, a government representative, the Coast to Capital Local Enterprise Partnership and West Sussex County Council, has put forward a draft economic plan.

The plan is in response to the devastating impact the coronavirus pandemic has had on Crawley’s economy.

A statement from the taskforce listed the some of issues the town faces: “A major collapse in Gatwick Airport passenger numbers – nearly four million per month (2019) to 850,000 per month (2020) – has resulted in more than 7,000 redundancies at the airport – nearly 33 per cent of the workforce.

“As many as 25,800 Crawley residents have been furloughed during the past year; this is 41 per cent of the eligible local workforce.

“Unemployment in Crawley has more than trebled from 2.4 per cent to more than eight per cent Youth unemployment is almost 13 per cent, which is nearly 1,000 young people.”

In response to this the Economic Recovery Plan is designed to “provide a clear vision for Crawley’s future socio-economic prosperity”.

The recovery plan aims to create: “A diverse and resilient economy – renew Crawley as an attractive, abundant, diverse economic powerhouse, founded on “green growth” and digital innovation.

“Green transformation – establish Crawley at the forefront of “green growth” and as a place where green technology businesses thrive Town centre renewal – secure a vibrant neighbourhood and sustainable economic future for the town centre via significant qualitative investment Skills for the future.

“To significantly improve overall social mobility among Crawley residents, creating powerful and effective skills pathways Connected Crawley.

“To enhance a ‘green’ economic future for Crawley by delivering low carbon transport and hyper digital connectivity.”

Councillor Peter Smith, Cabinet member for Planning and Economic Development at Crawley Borough Council, said: “The pandemic has had a huge impact on the local economy and unemployment levels in Crawley. We are committed, along with our public and private sector partners, to take the action necessary to get us on the road to recovery and are calling on the government to offer Crawley the support that it needs at this time.”