Britain’s automotive industry has been given a massive boost in the Budget, says the SMMT.
Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said, “The £100 million injection into connected car research, development and testing – to be matched by industry – will provide a vital boost to the UK automotive industry and put us ahead in the global race to build the cars of the future.
“It is tremendous news that government has adopted SMMT and industry’s call for this investment – it lays the foundations for the UK to become a centre of excellence in intelligent mobility, and underlines the importance of automotive engineering to the UK economy.
“In addition, we’re pleased that government has recognised the importance of China, which is now the automotive industry’s biggest export market. Sales of British-built cars there have grown seven-fold in the past five years. This funding will help us to further capitalise on this opportunity, and strengthen the significant work SMMT is doing to grow the UK automotive presence in China.”
It came the day before the SMMT today announced over 250,000 UK cars were built in 2015 to date including 130,000 made in February.
John Cridland, CBI Director-General, said, “Stability and consistency are what businesses need to grow and prosper. This Budget sets the tone, providing a clear plan for fiscal health and growth.
“This Budget has some encouraging measures to help businesses create jobs for the benefit of all.
Commenting on the measures to speed up lorry driver training, Andrew Norris, director at PwC, said, “Put simply, you need people to move goods around, and so this announcement can’t hurt the Chancellor’s growth plans.
“There has been a recognised skills shortage for a number of years, so road hauliers will welcome this review. The next step is to make sure that momentum is not lost after the general election, and the industry will be eager to hear the next steps.”
For used car retailers the Budget was good news, said Rupert Pontin,Head of Valuations at Glass’s.
“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.”
There was also a cautious welcome from the body which has been campaigning for more drivers to be tested and medical tests streamlined for them.
“The Chancellor has accepted the Government’s role in solving the driver crisis in announcing a review of driving tests and medical assessments for HGV drivers in his Budget statement today.
“The announcement from the Chancellor good news”, said the Freight Transport Association adding that it is “pleased that the Government has listened to industry.”
What future the Severn Bridge Tolls?
The AA is disappointed that drivers going to Wales will continue to be taxed when they cross the Severn Bridge after 2018.
It was hoped that, unlike Dartford, tolls would be abolished after 2018 when the project reverts to public ownership – in other words, when users have paid for it.
“At least white van man will find his tolls reduced under the proposals announced today – in Scotland all drivers and businesses benefit from toll free crossings so why not those in England and Wales?” said King.
The AA welcomes the extension of the fuel duty ‘big freeze’ beyond September as it continues relief for drivers hit by pump price surges but also because it warns any future government that they would get a frosty reception if tempted to raise fuel duty in the short term.
However, UK road fuel tax continues to be the highest in the EU.
The City of Cardiff Council has formally entered into negotiations with the UK Government over a City Deal for the region, it was announced yesterday.
News of the talks were revealed in the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s Budget statement this afternoon.
A City Deal could see Cardiff receive substantial sums in extra funding to spend on infrastructure projects aimed at boosting the city and the city region’s economy.