Britain needs to be mobile. Our economy is reliant on transport for the timely movement of people, goods and services around the country, and from a business motoring perspective, after months of uncertainty, today’s Budget had been widely anticipated and billed as one of the most important for the sector in recent years.
With this uncertainty – in the shape of Brexit, taxation and the move towards a greener future – businesses in the motoring industry, especially those for which transport accounts for the lion’s share of their operations, are left underwhelmed by a failure to announce more significant measures to alleviate concerns, despite some crumbs of comfort.
Earlier this year we reported a significant increase in the number of pothole-related incidents from our customers, so the additional £420m that has been ringfenced to immediately start tackling this growing problem is very welcome news.
With this commitment from the Chancellor, it is hoped that damage to vehicles and subsequent disruption to journeys will reduce, allowing us to offer a seamless mobility service and help keep business moving across the UK.
If the number of pothole-related incidents were to perpetuate at the current rate, we would expect to process double the number of damage claims as last year – an unacceptable situation. This commitment today therefore represents a good result for our customers, suppliers and insurers, along with the wider community of motorists.
As was common knowledge following the Conservative Party conference, we welcome the continued freeze on fuel duty – the ninth consecutive year it has remained at 57.95p per litre for petrol and diesel. It is estimated that the freeze has saved the average car driver around £1,000 and the average van driver more than £2,000 since 2010. For businesses operating fleets, we know this has a huge impact on their bottom line and we’re glad to see the government is acting to protect our transport and logistics sector, heralded as the backbone to our economy.
As the drive towards sustainability continues, fleets continue to require greater incentives to take up Ultra Low Emission Vehicles (ULEVs). By failing to announce that the 2% tax rate for pure electric company vehicles has been brought forward, the Chancellor has contradicted his commitment to a cleaner future. As we are seeing increasing numbers of fleets turn to electric vehicles (EVs) to drive their businesses, this failure will prevent a speedier and more widespread uptake in ULEV – especially important following recent calls for the 2040 ban on new petrol and diesel vehicles to be brought forward to 2032 – which we feel is an already ambitious target.
It was disappointing that the Chancellor failed to provide greater clarity on the new Worldwide harmonised Light vehicles Test Procedure (WLTP). While in the long-run it will obviously be a good thing to have more accurate CO2 readings, what this has done in the short-term is create barriers to the take-up of newer vehicles as fleets are unsure as to which tax bands they will fall into, and this uncertainty is now set to continue.
The Chancellor promised significant investment in infrastructure, which is critical if the UK is to firmly embrace technology and make a concerted effort to take mobility to the next level.
It is disappointing that despite claiming how important this investment will be for the UK to manage change, be it through connected cars, smart roads or autonomous vehicles, the Chancellor failed to expand on the specificities of the change to infrastructure that will power these developments.
If the government is serious about driving change, we need greater confidence and firm commitments in order to make it happen.
To read David’s comments on the Spring budget earlier this year, click here.
Categorised in: Company Updates
This post was written by Helen Wakefield
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