The Society of Motor Manufacturers and traders (SMMT) is less than happy with some aspects of the 2017 Spring Budget announced by the UK chancellor (finance minister) on Wednesday (8 March).
SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said: "UK Automotive plays a critical role in the country's economy but future success will depend upon maintaining competitiveness. It's disappointing, therefore, that the chancellor hasn't prioritised additional funding for supply chain development, nor addressed the flaw in business rates [which are rising] that disincentivises investment in plants and machinery."
The chancellor again froze fuel duty, which accounts for more than half the price per litre the pump, increased annual 'road tax', officially vehicle excise duty (VED) for most vehicles by the rate of inflation, announced a two-step reduction in corporation tax, promised a draft plan to improve air quality that may prompt diesel vehicle tax changes, allocated GBP270m for new 'disruptive technologies' which include driverless vehicles, biotech and robotic systems, and promised more spending to reduce traffic congestion.
Added Hawes: "The automotive industry is investing significantly in new technology to address the issue of air quality, so we look forward to working with government to encourage the uptake of the latest, low emission vehicles, regardless of fuel type. Nearly one in two new car buyers chose a diesel last year and getting more Euro 6 diesels on the road will be part of the solution as we also strive to meet our climate change targets.
"Measures to reduce congestion will help as will funding announcements for the design and development of battery technology. The UK is Europe's number one electric vehicle market, but consistent and long term government support is essential if we are to retain this position.
"On a more positive note, the focus on technical education is welcome, as we seek to fill the 5,000 vacancies that exist in our sector and invest in skills to improve productivity still further."