UK: Government "gets" auto industry as Europe looks across Channel: SMMT
UK automotive body, the SMMT, says the UK government "gets it" when it comes to supporting the British motor industry as the sector continues to ride a wave of optimism.
UK auto performance is in stark contrast to the travails being seen across Europe, while the financial sector is also starting to look more favourably at credit access after a period when manufacturing finance has been particularly difficult to source.
"The interesting thing for me is we are recreating the sort of eco-system of a UK auto industry that perhaps we have not really had since the late 1960s or early 1970s," SMMT chief executive, Paul Everitt, told just-auto at yesterday's 'Meet the Funder' event bringing together British suppliers and banks.
"Does government get it? The answer is 'yes.' They recognise the sector has opportunities and government needs to play its part. The challenge around finance is it is really difficult for government to make something happen.
"I have been talking to colleagues around Europe and they ask 'what have you done in the UK to get it so right?' It is about the mix of investors and product.
Everitt was also sanguine about the shifting nature of politicians being reshuffled on a regular basis, such as the recent move of former UK Business Minister, Mark Prisk, to housing.
"We had a great relationship with Mark Prisk," said Everitt. "The nature of politics was he was perceived to have done a good job, but when the Prime Minister says there is another job available, then it is not unreasonable to expect the individual to take advantage.
[New Business Minister] "Michael Fallon has come in and dedicated himself to getting out and about and has been very explicit in saying there is no change of policy or momentum. It is about political stability, but really, our agenda does not miss a beat."
There has been talk lately in the UK surrounding what could be a major shortfall in Exchequer revenue should British motorists increasingly adopt more frugal vehicles and with the SMMT promoting low-emission, low-carbon cars, Everitt nonetheless remains optimistic new Secretary of State for Transport, Patrick McLoughlin, will continue to follow that approach.
"McLoughlin is signed up to the work with low emissions and recognises the transition to low-carbon vehicles is an environmental responsibility," said Everitt. "We are [consulting] with the Department for Transport [as well as] Business and the Treasury - trying to promote a mature discussion.
"We recognise they need to raise revenue and vehicle excise duty and car tax are revenue raisers for government. Our success in reducing carbon emissions has an impact on their ability to raise revenue.
"We can't complain government does not listen to us - there is a dialogue."