Industry verdict on Spring Statement

The industry has responded to yesterday’s Spring Statement, with both the Institute of the Motor Industry and the Society of Motor Manufacturers welcoming government support for smaller businesses but expressing concerns around training plans.

Steve Nash, IMI CEO, said: “Clearly the Chancellor was trying to please many different groups in the Spring statement and the focus on helping the working community, including small businesses is welcome. For the smaller independent businesses in the automotive sector, the 50% reduction in business rates will provide some welcome relief – and may even give them the funds to inject into immediate training and upskilling to address the current skills gap.

“The cut in fuel duty will also, of course, give some respite to the motoring community as a whole which could have a positive knock-on benefit to the sector.

“But the IMI is particularly interested to learn more about the Chancellor’s plans to review the Apprenticeship Levy. His focus on vocational qualifications is welcome but it’s critical that any attempts to ‘level up’ in this area don’t come at a detriment to apprentice recruitment. Some employers may lobby for more freedom to spend the Levy on non-apprenticeship training, but that would be like throwing the baby out with the bathwater given that automotive apprentice recruitment is already well below where it needs to be. The IMI will actively reach out to the relevant government departments to provide our insight for the review.”

Meanwhile, Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: “Measures to help address the accelerating cost of living are welcome but business also needs support, especially on energy, investment and skills. Time is of the essence as the industry is not yet in recovery but costs are increasing rapidly, undermining UK competitiveness. Government could have acted today to help automotive manufacturers alleviate soaring business energy costs and encourage investment.

“We look forward to working with government on its proposals for business investment and, especially, super deductions which are highly valued. Manufacturers have committed £10.8 billion to UK EV and battery R&D and production in our first ‘electric decade’. Driving even more investment will be essential if we are to supercharge automotive manufacturing – and the jobs and economic growth it creates – during its biggest transformation in 100 years.”