Chancellor Jeremy Hunt unveiled his Autumn Statement on Wednesday as he seeks to put the “economy back on track”.
It sets out the government’s tax and spending plans for the coming year, affecting householders and businesses in equal measure.
In his opening statement in the House of Commons, Jeremy Hunt said: “After a global pandemic and energy crisis, we have taken difficult decisions to put our economy back on track. We have supported families with rising bills, cut borrowing and halved inflation.
“Rather than a recession, the economy has grown. Rather than falling as predicted, real incomes have risen. Our plan for the British economy is working. But the work is not done. Under this Prime Minister we take decisions for the long term.”
- Minimum wage will rise to £11.44 per hour from April
- Main rate of National Insurance to be cut from 12 percent to 10 percent from 6 January
- Class 2 National Insurance to be abolished from April
- Class 4 National Insurance to be cut from 9 percent to 8 percent from April
- ‘Full expensing’ tax break to be made permanent
- Freeze on small business multiplayer extended for another year
- £4.5bn funding for strategic manufacturing sectors, which includes zero-emission vehicles
- £500m funding over next two years for AI innovation centres
- Fuel duty to remain at 52.95p per litre
- New investment zones in West Midlands, East Midlands and Greater Manchester
The automotive industry has had its say on the announcements.
Andy Hamilton, group CEO at LKQ Euro Car Parts
“There were some helpful announcements for garages and bodyshops in today’s Autumn Statement but also some missed opportunities.
“We’ve long been vocal about the challenges they will face preparing their businesses for the future without government support, particularly in areas like the repair and maintenance of electric vehicles. So the decision to make full expensing permanent is very welcome as it should allow them to offset at least part of their investment into the equipment needed to handle both EVs and ADAS-equipped vehicles.
“With the aftermarket facing a skills crisis we’ll always be supportive of more funding for apprenticeship places too. But the extra £50m announced today is specifically focussed on growth sectors and, though we’re yet to see the detail on what these will be, it’s not hard to imagine they will be the more hyped industries like tech and AI than our sector.
“Freezing the small business multiplier for business rates will help garages and bodyshops to keep costs under control so is of course welcome. But it feels like another chance has been missed to reform a rates system that continues to penalise bricks and mortar-based businesses, with the risk that the freeze could be lifted at the whim of whomever is the Chancellor next year.”
Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive
“Last Friday’s announcement of £2billion for zero emission advanced automotive manufacturing was an unequivocal vote of confidence in the sector. The Chancellor’s statement today, with its focus on business growth, responds to our industry’s need for measures that allow UK automotive to compete for investment.
”The attractiveness of the UK will be bolstered by permanent full expensing and, given the importance of decarbonising the market and manufacturing, speeding up grid access.
“The UK proposition is enhanced by these measures but it is equally important that they can be accessed. The implementation of the Harrington Review on foreign direct investment must help simplify and speed up the process.
“We now look forward to the government’s advanced manufacturing plan, its battery strategy and how it will support consumers in making the switch to zero emission motoring, as we must not only make these vehicles locally but sell them.”
Gordon Balmer, executive director of the Petrol Retailers Association
“We are in the midst of a cost-of-living crisis, and events in Ukraine and the Middle East continue to create volatility in the fuel market. While we are disappointed that no advance announcement has been made to freeze fuel duty, we look forward to persuading the Chancellor to make the announcement in his Spring Budget.”
“The PRA and its members have worked closely with the relevant Government departments on the development of the interim fuel price transparency scheme. The consultation on a permanent scheme was due to be released in Autumn, and it is concerning that the Chancellor has not addressed its ongoing absence.
“It is disappointing that the Chancellor has opted to raise the national business rate multiplier. It is in direct contravention to their promise in 2019 to reduce business rates and will add bills to retailers already paying rates that are far too high.
“The announcements in the Autumn Statement will see fixed costs increase yet again for petrol retailers. Nevertheless, our members will continue to keep their communities fuelled and fed to the best of their ability.”
Paul Hollick, chair of Association of Fleet Professionals
“The public finances are in slightly better shape than expected and inflation is now below the prime minister’s stated 5 percent target, so this Autumn Statement was very much about cementing the idea – if not necessarily the reality – of economic recovery ahead of next year’s election.
“The measures taken, especially those to encourage investment, are to be welcomed in general terms and some businesses operating fleets will no doubt take advantage of them.
”However, it doesn’t change the underlying truth that the economy remains in pretty poor shape and that while inflation is falling, it remains relatively high.
”There’s also little in there to specifically support the motor industry or the fleet sector, although the £2bn allocated to EV manufacturing is to be welcomed and the planning changes for chargers could potentially speed rollout.”
Martin Rowley, executive director of National Body Repairer Association (NBRA)
“In the aftermath of the Autumn Statement, NBRA acknowledges certain government initiatives supporting our members; however, we underscore the ongoing need for precise support measures aimed at sustaining the automotive repair sector amidst economic uncertainties.
“We extend a call for collaborative efforts between the government and the automotive repair sector. We urgently appeal for the government’s support, providing essential relief for body shop employees navigating the escalating financial pressures during this challenging era of the cost-of-living crisis.
“Immediate action on apprenticeship reform, strategic support for workforce development, and targeted measures to enhance industry competitiveness are not mere suggestions but indispensable steps for securing the future of vehicle repairers
”The NBRA remains committed in our engagement with the government to ensure sustained support for body shops and vehicle repairers.”
Peter Golding, managing director, FleetCheck
“This is probably the kind of Autumn Statement you’d expect from a government that will be facing a general election sooner rather than later. Its big moves were the NI cut designed to make consumers feel as though their finances are improving and the full capital expensing, designed to boost investment and the economy.
“All of these are reasonable moves and should have some positive effects but there was little here that will help the fleet industry specifically and the general backdrop is one where the drag and damage caused by everything from Covid to Brexit have all had very real effects.
“The next couple of years will be difficult for fleets, with budgets under pressure and an ongoing need to minimise costs, although we are sure that fleets managers will show their customary ingenuity and dedication in tackling these issues.”
Paul Barker, managing editor at Carwow
“Motorists have told us they do not think this government is doing enough to encourage the switch to electric vehicles, so today’s announcements could go some way towards addressing that.
“Anything that helps incentivise the production of electric vehicle batteries is good news, especially with the uncertainty around the cost of bringing EVs into the UK from the EU. As we move towards the ban on sales of new petrol and diesel cars by 2035, we need a reliable and broad-scaled supply of batteries for EVs. Moves to attract battery manufacturing firms to the UK are very welcome.
“The policy announcement we really wanted today was a commitment to boost the UK’s EV charge point infrastructure, so it’ll be a huge relief to drivers to see Hunt’s commitment to ensuring the planning system prioritises the rollout of EV charge points, including EV charging hubs. Drivers and the wider industry have been crying out for this.
”A critical factor in accelerating the transition to electric vehicles is more charge points in more parts of the country, so today will feel like a huge win for drivers up and down the country.”