RHA response to Labour Manifesto

RHA response to Labour Manifesto

13 Jun 2024 Posted By RHA Policy

Responding to the launch of the Labour Party General Election manifesto, RHA Director of Public Affairs & Policy, Declan Pang, said:

It is positive to see Labour’s commitment to reform the planning system which continues to hamper the vital infrastructure our industry relies on. We welcome the focus on streamlining the process for Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects, such as Lower Thames Crossing, and updating the National Policy Planning Framework which are so vital in ensuring we have the right road network and lorry and Coach parking to meet demand. Local Plans play a vital role in the priorities of infrastructure in council areas and we are pleased to see Labour’s commitment to ensure that planning authorities have up-to-date Local Plans in favour of development and we support the commitment to ensure that planning guidance better caters to the needs of businesses as this has a significant bearing on land available for operators to use, as well as other vital infrastructure such as driver facilities.

We welcome Labour's plan to prioritise dealing with the scourge of potholes on our highway network. However, this must not come at the expense of deferring schemes which are essential for tackling congestion and creating reliable journey times for hauliers and motorists alike, such as the A27 bypass. One of the first jobs of the new government is to review the third Road Investment Strategy and ensure it is robustly funded. Maintaining our road network should not come at the cost of investing in its future.

The commitment to allocate £1.8 billion to upgrade ports and build supply chains across the UK through the National Wealth Fund will also have a major impact on our industry and we look forward to working with Labour on this, should they be successful in forming the next Government.

On taxation, the commitment to retain the full expensing system for capital investment and the annual investment allowance for small business is welcome but we need to see the same commitment for full expensing for leased assets (announced in the Spring Budget 2024). This will prove a significant support to hauliers, van and coach operators, particularly those affected by higher interest rates. With the average profit margin of a haulier just 2%, Labour needs to minimise the financial burden on operators from taxation particularly given that the cost of distribution impacts the prices on our shelves and the cost of living.

We have long called for reform of the Apprenticeship Levy and are pleased to see Labour have listened to these calls and will create a flexible Growth and Skills Levy. Just 1% of all new HGV licences last year came via an apprenticeship so it is crucial this works better for our industry. The pledge to a more joined up approach to migration and skills policy is also vital to ensure we have the workforce needed, particular where there are significant and escalating shortages in roles such as heavy vehicle mechanics.

Finally, with the phase out dates for diesel HGVs fast approaching, it is promising that Labour’s National Wealth Fund will support green investment, however there is much work ahead to tackle the barriers to decarbonising commercial vehicles and providing the stable and predictable policy framework needed including a clear and realistic roadmap, financial incentives and investment in energy infrastructure.