There have been a number of statements issued by trade bodies and businesses across the motor industry, following the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement.
A freeze in fuel duty was welcomed by most, including Charlie Elphicke MP for Dover and Chair of APPG for the Fair Fuel campaign. He said: “I’m delighted the Chancellor listened to the concerns of drivers up and down the land. He is absolutely right to put more money in the pockets of hard-pressed families and small businesses.”
Brian Madderson, Chair of the RMI’s Petrol Retail Assoc. also broadly welcomed the news. “In 2016 the freeze in duty boosted GDP by 0.57%, generated 112,000 new jobs and put £5.3bn back into hard working Brits consumer spending. It also bolstered tax revenues by 0.2%” he said.
“Trend volume sales in diesel have delivered a tax windfall to the Treasury of £1 billion and we will be looking to persuade the Chancellor to deliver an actual fuel duty cut in the Spring 2017 Budget”.
However, Madderson’s glee was not shared by TV presenter Quentin Willson who said: “I’m disappointed that the Chancellor didn’t instantly put money into everyone’s pockets by cutting duty. There’s an immediate benefit to the economy. I’m surprised too given the CEBR has said cutting duty by 3p wouldn’t change net tax receipts. This is a lost opportunity from a government still afraid of supporting drivers and roads”.
The Chancellor pledged a significant amount for rebuilding the UK’s crumbling road network. This went down with most people, including contract hire firm LeasePlan’s MD Matt Dyer, who said: ““The vehicle rental and leasing industry contributes £24.9 billion a year to the UK economy and in 2015 the leasing industry accounted for half the number of new cars registered on the road. So this news will be especially pleasing for businesses, whose roads have suffered from poor organisation, congestion and pitted surfaces for decades. These roads are vital for the businesses that will power the country through years of lower-than-expected growth, so it is reassuring that the UK Government now views this as a priority.”
However, Dyer’s enthusiasm for infrastructure was tempered by a complex rule change regarding ‘salary sacrifice’, a mechanism where people can pay into a plan to lease a vehicle for work, a change that obviously affects the leasing sector.
SMMT also welcomed the infrastructure plans, but added a caveat. “SMMT welcomes the government’s commitment to improving infrastructure and investment in R&D, an area in which UK automotive punches above its weight” said Mike Hawes, Chief Exec of the Society. “We are, however, disappointed that the government has not done more on business rate reform. SMMT called for the removal of plant and machinery from business rates valuation, which would have helped encourage further investment at this time of great uncertainty”.
Jason Moseley of RMI Bodyshops was glad of plans to reform insurance claims, particularly those for whiplash. “We welcome the chancellor’s announcement to tackle the whiplash epidemic, and plan new reforms will crack down on minor, exaggerated and fraudulent claims” he said.
“The news means that millions of motorists could see their car insurance premiums cut by around £40 a year as a result”.
Whiplash claims have risen by 50% over the last decade, costing insurance companies about £1bn a year.
However, Ian Hughes, chief executive of Consumer Intelligence sounded a note of caution: “The first thing drivers should notice is a reduction in nuisance calls from predatory claims companies. The need to produce medical evidence means that whiplash claims are no longer an easy and profitable for the “no win, no fee” market” he said.
“Drivers would also be wise to shop around to test whether their insurer is indeed lowering their premium in line with promises. There have been false dawns before. Insurers promised to pass on the savings when the LASPO (Legal Aid Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders) reforms came in three years ago. But when those reforms didn’t deliver the reduction in claims that insurers expected, rates rose again and are up 13.5% in a single year” he concluded.