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Budget: The motor industry reacts

By Kyle Linsay
Wednesday, March 18, 2015 - 16:00

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Though nothing in today’s Budget changed the picture for the wider electorate in the upcoming election, the motor industry certainly felt the benefits.

FleetPoint caught up with some of the leading figures in the motor industry to find out their thoughts on the Budget and what it meant for the motor industry from a fuel, innovation and freight point of view.

RAC chief engineer David Bizley said:
“Mr Osborne has clearly taken an opportunity to maintain the truce in the ‘war on motorists’ while tying the hands of any new incumbent of No 11. Freezing fuel duty beyond the end of this Parliament is therefore a very shrewd move as it would be extremely unpopular for any future Chancellor to unfreeze it.

“We believe the duty freeze has made an important contribution to the economy and hope that any future chancellor will now understand its significance and therefore think twice before reverting to regular inflationary increases. The above inflation fuel duty escalator that operated between 1993 and 1999 is the primary reason, of course, that we now pay nearly 70 per cent in tax on every litre of fuel we buy at the pumps.

“While the Chancellor has cancelled September’s scheduled fuel duty increase we would ideally have liked to see him scrap the duty escalator altogether.”

Rupert Pontin, Head of Valuations at Glass’s:
“This seems to be a structured, sustainable and fiscally neutral budget albeit with some significant gimmicks around savings and personal taxation.

“There is interesting and welcome support for the UK automotive industry in the shape of £100 million contribution for the development of autonomous vehicles to keep us ahead in this area of development for this market. This has the potential to be a crucial area in the future.

“In the shorter term, freezing fuel duty is also helpful while additional support and incentives for green and hybrid technology from a business taxation perspective is also interesting given the carbon emissions to which the UK is committed.”

Matthew Dyer, LeasePlan UK Managing Director
“From a sustainability perspective, this Budget could have gone further and contained more incentives to promote an even larger uptake of environmentally friendly vehicles. To meet the UK’s ambitious targets for C02 emissions, we will need significant numbers of drivers to switch to alternatively-fuelled vehicles. That said, the Chancellor did announce plans to invest £100 million to help the “brilliant automotive industry” stay ahead in terms of driverless technology and the systems required to implement and adopt the technology – such as telecommunications. In a positive move, he also pledged encouraging measures for a new generation of Low Emission vehicles by increasing company car tax more slowly than previously planned. Rates for traditionally fuelled vehicles will increase by three percentage points.”

Andrew Hogsden, Senior Manager, Fleet Consultancy, at Lex Autolease, said:
“Although businesses have benefited from lower fuel prices in recent months most observers agree that prices will start to rise again in the near future. This may have a detrimental impact on British businesses that are already burdened by some of the highest fuel prices in Europe. One of the priorities for the new Government should be to consider reducing fuel duty to ensure that firms are not priced off the road.

David Brennan, CEO Nexus Vehicle Rental, response was:
“While there were no big surprises in today’s announcement, it seems to be broadly positive for both business in general and the fleet sector.

“The promises to invest more in research and development of low emission vehicles and in driverless vehicle testing demonstrate a commitment to helping Britain become a leader in vehicle innovation and technology which can only be beneficial to our motorists and fleets.

“The news that company car tax will increase at a slower rate than planned is a welcome bonus to the businesses who rely on these vehicles to keep their operations running efficiently and I’m pleased to see small business rate relief extended once again.

“High petrol costs disproportionately hurt SMEs and low-income families, and we applaud today’s fuel duty freeze. Recent reductions in oil prices have provided a lifeline for the small businesses across the UK that we work with. It is no coincidence that the five years of frozen duty has coincided with the country’s return to economic growth. Small businesses are a vital part of the recovery.

CitySprint’s Patrick Gallagher commented:
“It is important that we do not let this commitment slip, and we would urge all parties to commit to maintaining this freeze as a manifesto pledge ahead of May’s election. This commitment would provide an excellent opportunity to support Britain’s start-up businesses.”

James Hookham, FTA Managing Director of Policy and Communications said:
“FTA members will be pleased and impressed that two issues raised at our Driver Crisis Summit have been so swiftly addressed. Speeding up driving test bookings for truck drivers and medical assessments will help us get qualified drivers on the road quicker and more reliably helping industry address its shortfall of 60,000 drivers. We look forward to seeing this implemented as soon as possible.”

What are your thoughts on the budget from a motor industry point of view? Let us know in the comments below.

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