By David Brennan, chief executive of Nexus Vehicle Rental
Brexit has dominated Westminster this week and we certainly expected limits to Mr. Hammond’s Spring Statement as uncertainty abounds after yesterday’s vote on Theresa May’s deal.
Indeed, the Chancellor declared the ‘cloud of uncertainty’ our economy faces is the most pressing issue at the beginning of his speech, and it is clear that businesses won’t have too many solid assurances from Government to help them plan for the future any time soon.
As expected, the Chancellor was quick to highlight improvements in the UK’s financial position since his last Autumn Budget, and the longest growth run of any G7 nation, but he has yet to deliver any significant tax or spending announcements in its wake, rather concentrating on continued wage growth of 3% over the next five years.
What is clear is that mobility is critical for our economy and for British business to thrive. We are reliant on transport for the timely movement of people, goods and services around the country, and require clear action from the government to ensure the backbone of the UK is protected throughout this tumultuous period.
Despite a lack of clarity on taxation, it is encouraging to hear talk of fresh investment in technology.
As a developer of innovative mobility technology, we see this as paramount to the future lifeblood of the economy and we must continue seeking investment in this sector to support new tech businesses, one of which is founded every hour in this country.
If the government is serious about its drive towards sustainability and carbon offsets, new policies must take into account the practicalities of these measures.
For transport professionals, although the transition to electric or hybrid vehicles has begun, diesel remains the best – and only - option for many fleets and drivers.
The fleet sector is urging the government to reconsider its 4% supplement, so that drivers and businesses whose only feasible option is a diesel vehicle are not unfairly penalised.
On top of this, clarification around electric vehicles (EVs) is necessary as we support calls for the plug-in grant to be extended beyond 2020 alongside the benefits in kind (BIK) incentive to remain high to encourage adoption of hybrid technologies.
As it stands, company car drivers are disincentivised to adopt ultra-low emissions vehicles (ULEVs) in the short-term as the BIK rises next year to 16% for vehicles up 50g/km, including zero-emission cars, before dropping to just 2% in 2020.
This needs addressing quickly to support the uptake of EVs and hybrid technology by businesses of all sizes.