Fleet News has teamed up with ACFO and the BVRLA to launch the Fleet Industry Manifesto, a series of five topical debates with fleets, leasing companies and industry influencers, which is intended to create a fleet-sector manifesto wish-list to be shared with the main political parties ahead of the 2015 General Election.
Each roundtable debate looks at a topic of major importance to the fleet sector, starting with tax and emissions on July 4.
Although spaces are limited to a handful of fleets, everyone has an opportunity to contribute by emailing their opinions to Fleet News editor-in-chief Stephen Briers (email@example.com) prior to the discussion or joining in the debate via the Fleet News UK fleet managers LinkedIn group (fleetnews.co.uk/linkedin).
The initiative has been warmly welcomed by the Department for Transport. Under secretary of state for transport Robert Goodwill told Fleet News the DFT would be “really interested” to see the Manifesto results.
“I’d be very keen to see what your priorities are, but also keen for you to shine the spotlight on the opposition parties to see if they would match some of our very ambitious [roads budget plans],” he said.
“We’re tripling the roads budget – £24 billion on road investment between 2010 and 2021.
“We’re currently running at double the average spend for the last parliament which I think shows a real commitment to improving the road network for both business and leisure users.”
ACFO and the BVRLA have achieved notable successes when lobbying government for change, not least in introducing quarterly updates for the Advisory Fuel Rate for business mileage reimbursement and changes to the mechanism used to calculate them; introduction of electronic vehicle registration and impending abolishment of the tax disc and driving licence paper counterpart; and heading off moves by HMRC to cut recoverable VAT on the vehicle leasing rate from 50% to 35/40%.
However, frequent changes in personnel at the key government departments and among Whitehall officials make it difficult to maintain a consistent relationship, not least due to the need to re-educate incoming ministers on the issues facing fleet operators and leasing and rental companies.
The Fleet Industry Manifesto will help to highlight the major concerns, enabling the main political parties to give them due consideration ahead of writing their own manifestos for the 2015 General Election (scheduled for May 7).
BVRLA chief executive Gerry Keaney stressed the importance of the fleet sector to the UK economy, pointing to the role it also plays in “making road transport safer and cleaner”.
He added: “This can happen only if the Government provides a fair and simple regulatory and tax framework, maintains a decent road network and ensures that the motoring agencies deliver efficient, modernised services.
“We need to make sure that supporting affordable, safe and sustainable road transport is a policy priority for all parties going into the next election.
“By working with ACFO and Fleet News we will assemble a cross-section of experts, enabling us to develop a clear and powerful manifesto that outlines the policy requirements of all business road users.”
Julie Jenner, ACFO director and former chairman of the fleet association, said that the fleet sector was constantly evolving and facing new challenges.
The need for government legislation to be appropriate and proportionate was vital to ensure an efficient and effective sector.
“Fleet is a fast-moving, dynamic industry and there are many areas that impact what we do, whether it be from a manufacturer, leasing company, supplier or fleet operator perspective,” she said. “Therefore, it is important that we continue working together looking at specific issues that will affect us now and in the future.
“With that in mind, ACFO is delighted to be working in association with BVRLA and Fleet News to provide a series of Fleet Industry Manifesto roundtables.
“A number of key topics have been identified for discussion with the aim of gathering together a group of industry experts from all aspects of fleet to discuss, analyse and review these topics with the output being a written manifesto that can be provided to Government which will help shape their thinking and strategy going forward.”
In addition to producing a manifesto document, each discussion will be covered in Fleet News to broaden the debate to the rest of the fleet sector.
View all manifesto round tables
Read the final manifesto document