In response to today’s Autumn statement, business group Logistics UK is encouraged that the government has prioritised stability for the economy after a period of volatility, which will help restore confidence for businesses. However, as Kate Jennings, the organisation’s Policy Director explains, there is also disappointment that some of the measures announced could stifle the switch to greener energy:
“The government’s announcement of continued infrastructure investment for Northern Powerhouse Rail, the HS2 extension to Manchester and the East West Rail link is good news for logistics businesses looking to strengthen cross-country connections with their customers,” she says. “However, the removal of Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) relief on vans is an unhelpful signal for millions of businesses at a time when they are being encouraged to move away from diesel. Most logistics operators work on very narrow margins, with vehicle acquisition schedules planned way in advance to minimise disruption to cash flow. At a time when operators are already facing increased operating costs, the additional tax imposition will create an additional burden: our sector needs more incentives to make the switch to alternative fuels, rather than barriers on the road to Net Zero.”
Commenting on the Autumn Statement, Marco Forgione, Director General of the Institute of Export & International Trade said:
“The Chancellor addressed a number of the specific issues we raised around levelling-up, business support and investment. Having called for certainty for businesses during what is a very volatile economic cycle, I think today we got the first semblance of that.
“Nonetheless confirmation that the UK is now in recession is a cause of real concern to our members as was the analysis from the OBR that trade volumes are likely to decline over the medium-term.
“The removal of import tariffs on over 100 goods shows a commitment to supporting the manufacturing sector which we particularly welcome. The Chancellor also highlighted the export opportunities of nuclear energy. We will continue working closely with DIT and BEIS, on behalf of our members, to showcase the wide range of export opportunities across the energy sector.
“Although the Overseas Direct Aid target has to remain at 0.5% for the forecast period, we ask the Chancellor to review this as soon as the fiscal situation allows, in order to return to the 0.7% target which is so important.
“Support announced today for the devolved administrations is also substantial and the Advanced Technology Research Centre in Wales will further heighten the UK’s specialism in technological development. We look forward to working with our partners in DIT and BEIS to support the Northern Ireland Trade and Investment Event also announced by the Chancellor today and driving new investment into Northern Ireland. Road infrastructure is also crucial for trade logistics, so we hope that the discussion between the Government and the Scottish Government on the A75 will be productive. We also call the Government to recognise, as part of its prioritisation of infrastructure modernisation, the need for the Single Trade Window project to continue being developed.
“As ever, these announcements will need detailed scrutiny. For example, there are SMEs throughout the country which may be questioning the ramifications of the announced cut in deduction rate for the SME R&D scheme to 86% and the credit rate to 10%. Nonetheless, today’s Autumn Statement was a step in the right direction.”