SMMT calls for ‘fundamental change’ in business rates

The Society of Motor Manufacturers has applauded the government’s decision to cut business rates in yesterday’s Autumn Budget, but says it can and must go even further to help the sector get back on its feet after the pandemic.

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: “The effects of the pandemic continue to hurt businesses across the sector – supply chain disruption, skills shortages and punitive energy costs. The Budget included some significant steps, most notably in adjusting business rates to allow relief on renewable energy and the extension of the super-deduction.

“Together with the Global Britain Investment Fund which provides £817m to support the transition of automotive manufacturing and the £620m announced last week for incentives, as well as investment in charging infrastructure, these are a recognition of the importance of the automotive sector and its ability to drive innovation and exports, and to create well-paid, highly skilled, green jobs across the country.

“However, if we are to attract the investment in plant and machinery that a modern, competitive and decarbonised industry needs, a more fundamental change in business rates is still necessary – one that actually incentivises the continued investment that factories need to be at the cutting edge of operational efficiency.

“The Budget was also a missed opportunity to support the many supply chain businesses which are suffering cash flow shortages due to stoppages arising from the semiconductor shortages.”