Dealerships calling for 'clear and strategic vision' in budget review

This week’s Government’s Budget Statement could prove a pivotal point for UK motor retail businesses and their customers, according to the National Franchised Dealers Association (NFDA).

The organisation recently submitted its proposal to the UK government outlining the key areas which it believes need to be addressed in the budget review to support the automotive sector and overcome challenges hindering the sector.

Sue Robinson, NFDA chief executive, said that following a set of ‘problematic’ announcements, the Autumn Statement “presents the opportunity for Government to listen to the calls of the sector by outlining a clear and strategic vision that responds to the industry’s dynamic challenges and opportunities, promoting economic growth, innovation, and sustainability”.

Ahead of this week’s budget review, six in ten (61%) dealers said they need help with rising costs, according to Close Brothers Motor Finance’s Forecourt Foresight research.

The research of more than 150 dealers found that half (54%) want to see a reduction in business rates. Whilst a quarter (23%) want to see better infrastructure for alternative fuel vehicle (AFV) charging points, one in five (20%) are also calling for incentives for stocking AFVs in the first place.  

Rising costs continue to be a challenge for dealers up and down the country with more than three quarters (78%) stating that the ongoing cost-of-living crisis in the UK will be the biggest challenge, according to Lisa Watson, director of sales at Close Brothers Motor Finance. “Costs are rising for consumers and businesses alike, meaning demand is constrained and prices have no scope to fall,” she said. “A cut in business rates would provide much needed relief for dealers still recovering from several years of uncertainly, and now trying to navigate high costs from stock prices, to taxes, through to energy bills. The motor industry is vital to the economy and dealers play a major role, so giving them some support should be at the front and centre of the Government’s plans.”

Hayley Pells, policy lead at automotive professional body IMI, added that the budget review could be the opportunity for the government to give employers some confidence about future support for recruitment, training and growth. “It could also be the chance to set a clear industrial strategy that includes training the next generation as well as ensuring the UK can compete on the global stage.”

She said that featuring on the IMI ‘wishlist’ where support could make a difference for the automotive sector would include efforts to rebuild the UK economy with a skilled workforce through increased funding for apprenticeships and support for SMEs offering apprenticeships.

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