Accountancy firm Menzies LLP is urging Chancellor Philip Hammond to address the current driver shortages and offset the expected post-Brexit industry crisis in next week’s autumn statement.
There is an estimated shortage of 60,000 drivers currently as the average age of lorry drivers nears 50 and about one-in-four drivers is set to retire in the next decade. If access to low-cost EU workers is restricted in the future, this position could worsen considerably.
Andrew Cook, partner at accountancy firm, Menzies LLP, said: “Business owners in the transport and logistics sector are hoping that the Chancellor has recognised the serious impact that driver shortages could have on UK industry; potentially impacting on productivity and economic prosperity.
“He should consider enhancing measures that encourage apprenticeships in the sector and make additional Government funding available for vocational training schemes that are designed to give SMEs access to the labour supply they need.”
Other changes that business owners in the transport and logistics sector will be hoping for include:
Investment in road infrastructure
“The Chancellor has already indicated plans to invest in infrastructure. As well as giving the go ahead to airport expansion plans, he should focus on accelerating the Road Investment Strategy (2015-2020) and consider providing tax incentives for investors in such projects,” said Cook.
“Freezing or cutting fuel duty could help to relieve pressure on margins at a critical time for many transport and logistics companies,” said Cook.
Encouraging investment in energy-efficient and safety-related technologies
“The introduction of grants or enhanced tax relief for SMEs with fewer than 250 employees would encourage investment in energy saving and safety-enhancing technologies. This would help to make such investments more affordable for many transport and logistics businesses and bring important benefits in terms of reduced emissions and overall improvements to UK competitiveness,” said Cook.
Subsidies for diesel fleets
While it is not something that transport and logistics businesses would hope for, the Chancellor could announce plans to step up its crackdown on diesel emissions.
“The Government has been ordered by the high court to accelerate plans to reduce air pollution. Plans to introduce ‘clean air zones’ in five UK cities, including London, are already in place. It is possible that the Chancellor could extend these plans or introduce fiscal measures to reduce use of diesel-engine vehicles more widely. It is important that any measures of this nature are phased to avoid causing significant hardship to transport and logistics businesses and subsidies should be made available,” said Cook.