Tag Archive | "LEGISLATION"


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Politics aside, it takes a brave man to become Chancellor of the Exchequer and then, within 27 days, write and present a budget at a time of global crisis brought on by the smallest of enemies, a virus.

But present Rishi Sunak did and with gusto too. Only time will tell whether or not his speech goes down in history as one that ‘got things done’ – to reuse the phrase that he repeated some 26 times – or is just another where brave claims made rot in the cupboard.

Call for national unity

Sunak rose to the dispatch box and went straight for the topic that’s on everyone’s mind at present – coronavirus and how the government plans to tackle it. Touching on what everyone is hoping, that the outbreak is a serious, but temporary, disruption to the economy.

The Chancellor commented, “for a period it’s going to be tough” and announced a series of “temporary, timely and targeted” responses to support those who cannot work while helping businesses that are struggling through no fault of their own. The measures announced follow on from the Bank of England’s ‘surprise’ action in the morning – namely an immediate 0.5% cut in interest rates from 0.75% to 0.25% and billions of pounds of extra lending with ‘additional incentives’ to help banks support otherwise healthy SMEs.

Back to the budget, Sunak announced a three-point plan at a cost of £7bn. The first granted the NHS whatever resources it needs to cope with the virus, irrespective of cost.

Next, aside from those absent from work who will receive Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) from day one, those who self-isolate regardless of showing any symptoms are to get the same. The self-employed eligible to claim Contributory Employment and Support Allowance will be able to claim from day one too.

The last element involves enhanced support for businesses through the full refund to SMEs with fewer than 250 workers of SSP for 14 days; HMRC scaling up its Time to Pay scheme for firms in trouble following the outbreak; and a new, temporary, Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme with £1bn in funding which can offer loans of up to  £1.2m to SMEs facing difficulties.

SMEs in the retail, leisure or hospitality sectors that have premises with rateable values below £51,000 will welcome the suspension of business rates for one year. And any business currently eligible for small business rates relief will be provided with a £3,000 cash grant.

The state of the economy

With the headline material announced, the Chancellor turned to the state of the UK economy and other measures.

It’s entirely clear that even before the outbreak of coronavirus that the world has been slowing down. The Chancellor’s figures don’t include the effects of coronavirus, but GDP growth is predicted to stand at 1.1% in 2020 and 1.8% in 2021, then 1.5%, 1.3%, and 1.4% in 2024. Sunak announced an extra £175bn of capital investment over the next five years, which the Office for Budget Responsibility expects to mean that another 500,000 will be in work. Inflation is predicted to rise to 1.4% in 2020 and 1.8% next year.

Of course, it’s natural to ask with all of the announced spending where the money is coming from to pay for it? The answer is that part will come from tax changes, but a sizeable amount will follow from increased borrowing – which had been previously highlighted. In summary, borrowing is likely (OBR figures) to rise to 2.1% of GDP in 2019-20, 2.4% in 2020-21, 2.8% in 2021-22 and 2.5% by 2022-23.

In terms of the now annual rise in the National Living Wage (NLW), that will increase by 6.2% from 6 April. However, the Chancellor went further and announced that the Low Pay Commission has been given a revised remit to ensure that NLW reaches 66% of median earnings – more than £10.50 an hour by 2024. It’s worth pointing out that, according to Incomes Data Research, when the NLW was launched in 2016 it was designed to pay a rate that matched 60% of median earnings. While this increase will help the low paid it will increase employer costs; the Low Incomes Tax Reform Group is worried that this could lead to ‘false self-employment’ or fewer workers being hired.

Another allied change relates to the National Insurance threshold which will rise from 6 April to £9500 from £8632. The Chancellor expects this rise to give workers an extra £100 a year. However, the Low Incomes Tax Reform Group, is concerned that this doesn’t help those below the new threshold and that further, Universal Credit recipients will lose £63 of the £100.

For the self-employed who work as contractors there was little cheer because, despite numerous calls from campaigners, Sunak refused to delay the tightening up of IR35 legislation. And so, the self-employed who work for a company as if they are an employee could potentially end up paying the same level of tax that permanent staff members pay, but without the benefits.

Numerous changes

Sunak offered a number of ‘populist’ tax changes, chief of which was the removal of the so-called “tampon tax” – from January 2021 the UK will no longer charge 5% VAT on women’s sanitary products.

The planned rises in spirits, beer, wine and cider have all been postponed as has the much-vaunted increase in fuel duty. Tobacco taxes, however, will continue to rise by 2% above the rate of retail price inflation. And to help pubs stay afloat, the proposed business rates discount of £1000 per year has – for one year only – been increased to £5000. At the same time, the government is to give £1m to support the Scottish food and drink sector to promote itself worldwide.

For business, the Chancellor commented that the country needs “a thriving private sector” and to this end he announced £130m of funding to provide start-up business loans, £200m for the “British business bank to invest in scale-ups”, £200m for life sciences and £5bn in new export loans. And with a nod to the government’s newly found favour in the regions, dedicated trade envoys to represent the North, the Midlands, Wales and the West of England will be placed in UK embassies.

Following on from the government’s manifesto pledge to review the efficacy of Entrepreneurs’ relief, Sunak announced that it’s to be restricted so that it offers a lifetime allowance of just £1m compared to £10m previously. As he explained, the relief apparently does little to incentivise the creation of businesses, mostly ends up going to a comparatively small number of individuals and costs the government some £2bn a year. The predicted savings will be redirected to business via an increase in the Research and Development Expenditure credit (RDEC) from 12 to 13%, a rise in the Structures and Buildings Allowance (which relieves the construction costs for new structures and buildings) from 2 to 3%, and an increase in the Employers Allowance (which reduces an employers’ secondary Class 1 National Insurance costs) to £4000.

On top of that is an increase in investment in R&D from the planned £18bn to £22bn as more of the funding – £400m – is spread around the regions.

It should be noted that RDEC change only helps larger firms; SMEs use a different scheme which only saw a delay of one year to April 2021 on a cap on tax credits payable; there was no rise in its allowance.

Other areas

On environmental issues, the Chancellor announced changes to how the issue of pollution is tackled, notably, from April 2022 the levy on electricity will be frozen while that placed on gas will rise; a new Plastic Packaging Tax of £200 per tonne will be applied to plastic packaging where less than 30% recycled plastic content is used; and the use of red diesel will be restricted to agriculture, rail and domestic heating and fishing. Those in construction, civil engineering and related trades, plant and equipment hire, transport, quarrying and mining and leisure will lose out.

There’s to be money for greener and cleaner transport options to make it less expensive to buy lower emission vans and cars as well as pay for more rapid charging hubs. And there’s to be £120m for defences damaged in recent floods, £200m to local communities to help areas flooded repeatedly and £5.2bn for new flood defences.

These green changes will be partly paid for by the increase in Air Passenger Duty that will, from 1 April, see long-haul economy tickets rise by £2 to £80, and premium cabin fares rise by £4 to £176.

The regional governments are to be offered more funding – £640m extra for Scotland, £360m for Wales, and Northern Ireland will see £310m.

Other changes to infrastructure will involve gigabit broadband being rolled out nationwide at a cost of £5bn, and £510m being spent on creating a shared 4G network so that 95% of UK will be covered. Roads and rail will see spending too; Sunak noted that there would be “over £27bn of tarmac” through a strategic fund for roads and motorways providing “over 20 connections to ports and airports, over 100 junctions, 4,000 miles of road” alongside £2.5bn over five years to fix potholes. Some might question how this fits in with the government’s green credentials.

Housing saw a 1% cut in interest rates that apply to lending for social housing and there’s to be £1.1bn from the Housing Infrastructure Fund to build 70,000 new homes, £650m to help rough sleepers with 6000 new places, and a new stamp duty surcharge of 2% on non UK residents from 2021. And for those in buildings covered in unsafe combustible cladding, there’s £1bn for its removal from structures over 18m in height, whether publicly or privately owned.

To ease the pressure on NHS funding the planned cut to Corporation Tax has been shelved – it remains at 19% which, Sunak reiterated is the “lowest rate in the G20.” There’s also extra funding for HMRC to reel in an expected £4.4bn in additional revenue. And to get consultants and GPs working more, the pensions taper threshold has been increased by £90,000 to £200,000 to take the majority out of a tax trap; workers in other sectors will benefit if they earn under £200,000.

Businesses caught by the Making Tax Digital (MTD) regime for VAT will welcome the Chancellor’s plans to evaluate MTD’s introduction before (if) it’s rolled out further. According to the Chartered Institute of Taxation, MTD hasn’t reduced errors, reduced costs or greatly improved productivity.

For importers, the introduction of ‘postponed accounting’ means that those who are registered for VAT will account for import VAT as an entry in the VAT return, rather than paying it at the time of import or by using a monthly deferral account; this will aid their cashflow significantly.

And finally, publishers will be pleased that the government is to remove VAT on digital books, magazines and manuals from 1 December. However, it should be pointed out that the EU changed the rules regarding this back in October 2018.


So, the Chancellor has combined election pledges with pragmatism in helping the country fight coronavirus. The question is – is the government be storing up economic problems for the future or is it hedging on the basis of interest rates will be low for some time? One thing is certain, the plan to place treasury offices around the country is noble, but will 22,000 civil servants all want to move out of London?

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A significant legal case has been thrown out of court.

Klarius’ Cheadle site

Five directors of Staffordshire-based Klarius had been due to stand trial on charges of fraud at Manchester Crown Court, but it is understood by CAT that the judge did not find information provided admissible, apparently referring to a ‘shambolic failure’ in what was presented and found there was no case to answer.

The charges related to historic claims of ‘knowingly’ selling non type-approved emissions products.







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Standard Motor Products Europe (SMPE), one of the UK’s largest independently owned  suppliers, has achieved the management system standard ISO14001:2015. 

The standard, which is in addition to the company’s ISO:9001 certification, applies to both its Nottingham and Poland facility. The new standard provides SMPE with an environmental management system framework in order to manage its environmental responsibilities in a systematic manner, contributing to greener sustainability, covering criteria including recycling, lower carbon footprint and waste reduction.

READ: New standard fixes child seat fitting fears

The updated 2015 standard includes the latest requirements relating to the context of the organisation, leadership, strategic environmental management, risk and opportunities, life-cycle perspective, performance evaluation and auditing.

Richard Morley, SMPE Commercial Director, said: “This achievement demonstrates both our professionalism and reliability as a company and signals to new and existing customers that SMPE is a perfect partner to do business with”. 

SMPE UK building

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Proposals for electric cars to wear green number plates could bring additional revenue for plate makers, but are unlikely to ever come into effect, according to several accessory shop representatives. The Department for Transport has begun consulting on plans to make electric cars ‘even greener’ with the introduction of legally mandated coloured number plates. It claims that such a move would ‘raise awareness of the increasing number of zero tailpipe emission vehicles on UK roads, help their drivers to benefit more easily from local incentives like free or cheaper parking and encourage greater uptake of new vehicle technology’. 

But how prepared are accessory shops and plate makers to produce the literally green units? Those CAT spoke to expressed surprise upon hearing the government’s plans. 

Jon Rogers at Wrexham Motoring Supplies said he couldn’t see a good reason for such a scheme to be introduced. “Every electric car owner will need to buy new number plates,” he said, suggesting the plans could be a ‘DVLA money-making scheme’. Further confusing things, he argued, is the fact that most bus lane and car park cameras operate using ANPR technology, negating the need for any sort of different-coloured plate. 


As regards the plan’s potential impact on number plate vendors, Rogers said: “The colouring method would dictate cost. If it’s just one section of the plate that needs changing, it wouldn’t cost too much.” WMS’s method of plate production means that a different colour could be relatively easily added, but shops using other means of production could see their overheads significantly increased. However, he noted that customary delays to relatively radical transportation reform means he ‘wouldn’t worry about this for another year’.

READ: Posh plate sales steady as new car demand slumps

Dean Bayley at Leicester’s Epic Accessories was similarly confused. “I don’t know what the benefit is,” he said, asking: “will EVs being able to drive in bus lanes help traffic flow?” He also drew attention to the potential for increased cost, on both the consumer and supplier sides, and suggested that drivers of non-electric vehicles could resent any special treatment afforded to EV drivers. 

Bayley also noted that new number plate laws, first announced in April 2018, are still yet to be implemented. The BS AU 145e standards are set to be introduced as a means of improving the legibility, durability and conformity of all British number plates, but have faced numerous setbacks, prompting Bayley to argue that the DfT is ‘not prioritising what it should have done a year and a half ago’. He added: “There’s that much up in the air – we don’t know if we’re coming or going.” 


So first impressions of the radical proposals are, at least from the aftermarket, skeptical. Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said the green plates ‘are a really positive and exciting way to help everyone recognise the increasing number of electric vehicles on our roads,’ and it seems that mere differentiation is the prevailing motive. Any concerns regarding cost or feasibility appears, at least for now, to come second to disbelief that such a scheme could even be implemented. 

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DVSA has made an agreement with the GEA that no new models of diesel smoke meter, exhaust gas analysers or decelerometers would be approved for use in MOT centres unless they can connect to the testing service.

This follows from a similar agreement between the two organisations last month that roller brake testers for classes 4,5 and 7 would only be approved if they connected to the new service.

From 1 October, new MOT centres will need a connected roller brake tester to receive approval and all garages will only be able to buy connectable roller brake testers as replacements. The same rules will apply to smoke meters, gas analysers and decelerometers, although a date to switch has not yet been announced.


Dave Garratt, GEA Chief Exec said:  “The main concern for GEA members is to improve the quality of MOT equipment and remove any possibility of human error in the reporting procedure. Connecting MOT test equipment is a very logical step for us as it removes any “miss keying” by the operator and speeds up the process”.

“Starting by connecting brake testers makes good sense and since the introduction of Automated Test Lanes (ATLs) most may already be connectable”.

“Connecting all types of processor-based equipment is possible and as connectivity is applied across the whole test bay it will add increasing value for the motorist by reducing error and benefit the garage by speeding up the test”.

Chris Price, DVSA Head of MOT Policy said: “DVSA’s priority is to help everyone keep their vehicle safe to drive. We’re bringing in connected equipment to modernise testing in MOT garages and reduce the potential for mistakes”

MOT equipment will communicate directly with centre

“It will make testing quicker, more accurate and give motorists greater confidence in the quality of testing. Garages already using this equipment have seen benefits to their business.”





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In a blog post, Neil Barlow, DVSA’s Head of MOT Policy has reflected on the changes to the test, implemented in May.

Writing for authorised examiners, he noted: “Before 20 May, the training environment we set up to help you get used to the changes was used by over 12,000 testers. Your feedback showed that most of you found this useful, so we’ll look at providing a similar training environment again for any large changes in the future.”

Barlow observed that testers were taking longer to record defects, though this was ‘hardly surprising’ given the new structure. He also noted that the wording, which had been criticised by a number of testers for being technically or grammatically ambiguous, was being updated.

On a slightly different subject, Barlow wrote how the Agency was reviewing the ‘risk rating’ for testing centres. This will look at a number of factors and the station will be logged under a ‘traffic light’ scheme accordingly. “We’ll do some calculations based around testers and this will be pulled together to form an overall score for the garage. We’re working hard to make sure that this information is clear and open to those that need it” concluded Barlow.

Mixed responses for 4-1-1 proposition

Read Barlow’s full blog post here

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German cities will be allowed to ban older diesels from entering, following a court ruling. Dusseldorf and the car-building city of Stuttgart can now force pre-Euro IV vehicles off the road in a case brought by environmental pressure group Deutche Umwelthilfe (DUH).

The Federal Government has opposed the move, leading commentators to criticise how close it is to the domestic car industry. The decision from the Federal Administrative Court comes after a legal challenge to the case was mounted by German states.

Presiding Judge Andreas Korbmacher wanted to deliberate the issue ‘very thoroughly’ and delayed reaching a verdict for several days.

Analysts believe that the ruling will set a precedent across other cities in Europe, though many French cities already have ‘CritAir’ that restrict pre-Euro IV vehicles and the UK has various Low Emission zones, which vary in size and restriction, but have a similar aim to the French system.

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Two years after the emissions scandal, a new study by Brussels-based  thinktank Transport & Environment (T&E) claims that diesel cars not only pollute the air but also emit more CO2 over their lifetime than petrol cars. A lifecycle analysis of vehicle emissions proves that diesel cars over its lifetime emit 3.65 tonnes of CO2 more than a petrol equivalent.

The group claims that the  higher climate impact is due to a mix of more energy-intensive refining of the diesel fuel; more materials required in the production of heavier and more complex engines; higher emissions from the biodiesel blended in the diesel fuel; and controversially, a claim that derv-powered cars cover a greater mileage ‘because fuel is cheaper’.

Julia Poliscanova from the group said: “The legacy of Dieselgate are the 37 million grossly polluting diesel cars still on Europe’s roads. While some of them will be taken off German roads, these dirty cars will soon end up in Central and Eastern Europe choking citizens there. We need concerted and coordinated action EU-wide to ensure these cars stop belching toxic fumes for another 10-15 years. It is time for the carmakers to take responsibility for their clean up and cash out for the local measures to tackle the urban air pollution crisis they have largely caused.  National vehicle regulators must ensure this happens or the European Commission step in and sort out the mess.”

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Driving for work is a ‘work activity’ like any other. However, our familiarity and, in some cases complacency, with the activity can make it difficult to manage despite it being one of the greatest risks we face. With the trade running fleets of delivery vehicles, the issue of road safety should be high up on the agenda. Indeed, it’s not hard to find web-hits such as ‘Van driver hurt in crash’ or ‘Truck, lorry and van driver injury compensation claims’.

There is a raft of criminal offences that capture individual drivers who decide to break the law. These include death by dangerous driving, careless driving and driving without a valid licence or insurance. The law recognises that properly licensed drivers have a personal obligation to take care of themselves and others on the road.

However, organisations, managers and colleagues could also be implicated if they are considered to have “aided and abetted” that criminal behaviour. A potential example of this would be where a manager
knew that a driver’s insurance had expired but did not alert anyone within the business or prevent that individual from driving. Organisations often collect vast swathes of information that are relevant to managing driving, but are not used as such. Working time details, health information and job descriptions are all good examples.

Prosecutions for ‘aiding and abetting’ offences remain rare, but a fatal road death may result in a Coroner’s Inquest and the organisation having to answer some difficult and probing questions on behalf of the deceased’s family.

Within the more typical health and safety arena, prosecutions could arise where the culture of the organisation is such that driving for work is not managed properly and individuals are put at risk.

In fatal incidents, under the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007, an organisation can be held liable if “working regimes, dangerous or illegal practices or negligence have contributed to the death”. The police will investigate for the offence of corporate manslaughter and will want to establish the attitude of senior management towards managing driving for work. Were policies in place and enforced, and was there real and visible leadership from the top?

Further, the Health and Safety at WorkAct 1974 states that organisations have a duty to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety of all employees while at work, and that others are not put at risk by work-related driving activities.

Beyond the broad 1974 Act there are various other health and safety regulations that apply to work activities such as driving. The key action point is to appreciate driving for work as a work activity and treat it as you would any other, providing suitable instructions, information and equipment based on a sound risk assessment process.

The most obvious consequence of getting it wrong is that an employee or members of the public is seriously injured or killed as a result of your organisation’s driving activities. Organisations recognise the moral reasons for keeping people safe.

In addition, there is the risk of a subsequent prosecution for individual criminal offences or for organisational or management failures.

The potential consequences of getting health and safety management wrong have become all the more severe since February 1 2016, which saw the introduction of a Sentencing Guideline for health and safety offences and corporate manslaughter (among others) and creates the potential for higher fines and prison sentences than we have seen historically. The guideline uses ‘potential harm’ as one of the determinants when deciding upon a sentence; the potential harm associated with driving is obvious.

In addition to a criminal prosecution, you may have to deal with any civil claims brought against the business by individuals who have been involved in an incident. Insurance may be in place for organisations and those that use company cars, but what about those who use their own vehicles? Everyone ‘driving for work’ needs to have ‘business use’ insurance. Without it, insurance policies can be revoked and the individual or organisation is left to pay.

Aside from financial implications, incidents and prosecutions can attract significant negative publicity, which in turn could affect an organisation’s brand and reputation. Many vehicles now bear corporate logos and branding which can have unwanted consequences in the event of a serious incident. The impact of an investigation can also create significant business interruption, with the seizure of vehicles, computers and other records, even if a prosecution does not result.

Driving for work can be a risky business and should be taken seriously by the whole organisation; not just the driver.

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Six complainants went to the Advertising Standards Authority to challenge whether a TV advert for Euro Car Parts promoted reckless and dangerous driving.

The adverts featured a woman driving through a country lane. The camera shot to the woman adjusting the volume on the car stereo, and then switching gears while speeding up. The camera then shot to the woman pressing firmly on her brake pad and stopping suddenly to avoid hitting sheep in the road. A voice over thanked her local technician for replacing her brake pads earlier and so avoiding her hitting the animal.

In response, ECP quoted the Highway Code to prove that the subject was not driving outside of and said that the words ‘fast and efficient service’ used in the voice over did not refer to the subject’s car.

The ASA noted the points and did not find the advert in breach, so no further action was necessary.

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