The number of people claiming unemployment benefits rose at double the national rate in communities around London’s biggest airports in 2020.
The coronavirus pandemic has decimated the travel industry, leading to airlines and airports slashing thousands of jobs to stay afloat.
In Hayes and Harlington, Heathrow’s local constituency, the number of people claiming benefits rose 221 per cent, against a national average of 112 per cent.
In Crawley, by London Gatwick, and Saffron Walden, which includes London Stansted, the figure was 224 per cent and 228 per cent respectively.
The data from the All Party-Parliamentary Group for the Future of Aviation showed that on average in the constituencies containing the UK’s top 20 airports unemployment rose 145 per cent.
Ahead of Wednesday’s budget, the group is calling on Chancellor Rishi Sunak to extend the furlough scheme for aviation to the end of the year.
The group is also calling for the Treasury to create an ‘Airport Communities Resilience Fund’ to to provide job and employment support to those impacted by the pandemic.
Henry Smith, the chair of the group, said:
“It is essential that the Chancellor extends the job retention scheme until at least then end of the year and introduces an airport communities resilience fund to provide further support for those areas most affected by the collapse in UK aviation.
“Alongside this the Government must ensure that a full and comprehensive package of financial support is provided to businesses in the aviation, travel and tourism sectors to protect jobs and to help them through the challenging months ahead.
“The pandemic has been disastrous for our aviation, travel and tourism communities and the Chancellor must use the upcoming Budget to provide the support they desperately need.”
Back Heathrow, a lobby group, also called for further support for the industry. As well as supporting the call to extend furlough, it also called for the business rates waiver to be extended to 100 per cent.
At the moment, airports can receive financial support of up to eight per cent of their business rates bill from the government.
But for large airports like Heathrow, which has an annual business rates bill of £120m, such support is only a drop in the pond.