The release of the Autumn Statement 2023, or mini budget, on 22 November set out the UK Government’s assessment of the economy and spending plans until the next.
It touched on many things, including spending and decisions relating to Vehicle Excise Duty, Freeports and apprenticeships.
Meachers’ Commercial Director, Gary Whittle, gives his views on the proposals that will impact transport and freight, and the wider logistics industry, in the UK.
Vehicle Excise Duty
Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) for Heavy Goods Vehicles (HGVs) and the HGV Levy frozen for 2024-25.
GW: I think anything that helps the industry control its ever-spiralling operating costs must be good news for both the industry, the general consumer and UK PLC.
We have experienced unprecedented levels of increases over the past 24 months, at the same time as the industry has suffered extreme volatility in all aspects of the supply chain. This has made operational conditions very challenging. Any relief with this is gratefully received.
£2 billion funding being made available to support the manufacturing and development of zero-emission vehicles.
GW: This must be welcomed, but a better understanding of the potential pathway for this is important. Most operators are looking at long-term investments and, as such, need to understand the complexities of vehicle purchasing/leasing and residual costs.
Additionally, we need to understand the infrastructure to support the implementation of the new equipment, and the impact on productivity of any fleet through things such as charging times and payload.
We need to have a coordinated pathway clearly communicated and understood, which should include all stakeholders in the debate.
HGV parking facilities
The introduction of a premium planning service with guaranteed accelerated decision dates for major applications, which may help accelerate building parking facilities for HGVs.
GW: This is long overdue, in an industry that ensures that UK PLC can be fed and provided for, never more obvious than during the recent pandemic, the conditions we expect this workforce to work in are frustrating.
I would however like to see this be enacted and delivered and will hold judgement on how positive this is until we start seeing this on the ground.
£50m funding for increasing apprenticeships in key growth areas where there are shortages.
GW: The apprenticeship process is a valuable one but does not fulfil all the industry’s skills requirements. I would call for a reform of how some of the levy is utilised.
The reason for the limited take-up of the funds with the levy pot are clear – it is not what industry wants or needs, otherwise it would have done so.
What we need is to allocate some of the funds to up-skilling our existing workforce without the current constraints, and to attract new entrants to the industry with the specific vocational training that the industry requires, not what a curriculum dictates.
Freeport tax relief extension
Extension of Freeport tax reliefs to 30 September 2031 in England, and extended Investment Zone tax reliefs and Freeports from five to ten years in Scotland and Wales (subject to agreement with the devolved administrations).
GW: This again is a well overdue initiative. The very exciting opportunity that the Freeports will bring to our region has to be supported by longer-term thinking, and this is a great step in the right direction.