The pre-Brexit budget for 2018 has been finalised and Phillip Hammond, Chancellor of the Exchequer, has stated that “Britain is open for business”. It’s a bold statement, but what does this actually mean for the UK logistics and haulage industry?
The Key Pledges
Among the key pledges there are several aimed towards the transport industry. The government is aiming to build a stronger more prosperous economy, which will involve various changes within the haulage and logistics sector.
One such change will be the new Roads Investment Package, which is allegedly the largest ever. A £770 million budget has been put in place for improving transport infrastructure in cities. This aims to ease up congestion and improve the working environment for hauliers. Additionally, the Transforming Cities fund is set to increase to £2.4 billion.
Other highlights include £30 billion to improve roads, fuel duty frozen for the ninth consecutive year, and £1.6bn of new investments to support modern industrial strategy. The fuel duty freeze is particularly important for the UK haulage industry, since the UK fuel duty is the highest in the world, currently standing at 57.95 pence per litre. Considering 98% of goods sold in the UK are transported by road, that’s a lot of money spent on fuel.
There have also been some budget reformations concerning driver shortages. Currently, the UK is struggling with an estimated driver shortage of 50,000 workers. An additional problem is that the average age of hauliers is 55, and only 2% of drivers are in the ‘under 25’ bracket. Thus, the government have made further changes to the apprenticeship levy in order to support employers. This will hopefully result in further interest in the work from younger drivers.
Recently, Clean Air Zones have been established across the UK, which is an excellent way to encourage the use of low-emission vehicles. However, since no centralised formula has been implemented, this has resulted in operators having to pay the fees that have been dictated by their local councils if their vehicles do not meet the zone’s low-emission requirements. Consequently, it has prompted a push for further changes in this sector, as many firms (particularly smaller businesses) are in need of additional funding in order to afford these newer technologies. It has also affected the second-hand market since the demand for non-compliant vehicles has fallen.
Although all these changes are positive, many hauliers agree that more can be done. To significantly decrease staff shortages, firms need further guidance from the government as to how to use the apprenticeship schemes to achieve the best results. Many also hope that, eventually, further action will be taken regarding fuel prices and prices of greener technologies. But despite these concerns, the new budget is set to have a positive effect on the logistics and haulage industry.
Norman Dulwich is a Correspondent for Haulage Exchange, the leading online trade network for the road transport industry. Connecting professionals across the UK and Europe through their website, Haulage Exchange provides a valuable service for the haulage industry, matching delivery work with available vehicles. Over 5,400 member companies are networked together through the Exchange to fill empty capacity, get new clients and form long-lasting business relationships.