What the General Election manifestos mean for our industry

What the General Election manifestos mean for our industry

19 Jun 2024 Posted By RHA Policy

The main political parties have now published their general election manifestos. RHA Director of Policy and Public Affairs Declan Pang outlines what each major party pledge means for our industry.

Whilst each manifesto offers an insight into what each party plans to do if it’s elected into government, it is by no means a complete programme of policies. For haulage, coach, and van companies there are many areas where we need swift action from the next Government

In many cases, the manifestos give no indication on future intentions for transport and there are many unanswered questions on how they will approach key challenges.

Over the past week, we’ve set out our reactions to the LabourConservativeand Liberal Democrat manifestos and what they mean for our members. We have also written to all three party leaders to ask them to confirm their support for the vital role our members play in keeping the economy and our supply chains moving. We have set out below our view on the key areas.


With congestion costing the UK economy over £30bn a year, the general election comes at a pivotal moment for the future of our road network.

Over the coming months, the new Government will need to announce what is contained in their third Road Investment Strategy (RIS3), outlining how much they will have to spend investing our network, and which schemes in particular they will be focusing on. 

It is vital that the next Government does not accept a RIS3 which is underfunded and unambitious. The significant Network North roads investment - including over £8.3 billion allocated for resurfacing and repairing roads - was a welcome announcement by the last Government. We are yet to see substantive plans from the other parties on road investment.

Planning reforms to enable road projects to be built more quickly to unlock economic growth are much needed. This is particularly important for vital schemes such as the Lower Thames Crossing which are subject to the lengthy and bureaucratic Development Consent Order (DCO) process, holding back projects and adding many years to the timespan for approval.

We continue to call for better facilities and more safe and secure parking for drivers. Commercial vehicle drivers are vital to our economy, yet they still face a poor standard of facilities at service stations and truck stops throughout the country, including a severe lack of secure parking.

We have seen significant progress in the recognition of the importance of truck and coach parking in recent years, but there is still much more to do. We look to the next Government to commit to the planning reforms and investment needed.

You can read our full asks for infrastructure HERE.


Our industry continues to face skills shortages. Lorries, coaches and vans are vital economic enablers and plugging skills gaps and building the foundations for a future workforce are essential.

Future skills policy, training and funding needs to align with the needs of learners and businesses. The future funding for training, especially for upskilling the current workforce as we transition to net zero, will need to be flexible.

We are pleased to see that Labour and the Liberal Democrats have committed to apprenticeship levy reform. Unfortunately, for many apprenticeships in logistics, businesses have not been able to utilise their levy funds due to the inflexibility. The sector paid £965 million into the Levy since 2017. Only 10% of levy funds used for logistics apprenticeships. This is why we’re calling for a Skills Levy which would make it easier for hauliers, van and coach operators to secure the funding for the programmes which better suit their business needs.

Vehicle technicians have decreased by 30% since 2019. We urge government to increase apprenticeship funding bands to account for rising costs – and create greater course availability to tackle this significant and growing skills shortage.

You can read our full asks for skills HERE.

Net Zero

As the we move closer to the phase out dates for diesel HGVs, more detail is needed from the political parties on how commercial vehicles will transition to Net Zero. All parties are predictably focussed on cars and the lack of detail for commercial vehicles represents both a concern but also an opportunity. 

The concern is that freight and coach operations continue to be overlooked by the politicians. As both are vital to the economic and social wellbeing of our society, this must change and the RHA will step up its campaign to ensure the needs of freight and coaches are front-and-central in the minds of policymakers.

The to do list for the incoming Government will be long. Chief among them will be how the astronomical cost of decarbonising HGVs, estimated to be £100bn, can be managed so that our vital small businesses, who represent 95% of our sector, feel supported. We look to see how the existing work by the Department for Transport to invest in vehicle trials and scope where energy infrastructure investments are needed is taken forward.

We will continue our campaign for a roadmap from the new Government that affirms how all these issues will be managed.

You can read our full asks for Net Zero HERE.

Finally, with the average profit margin of a haulier just 2%, the next Government 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 will continue engaging with candidates of all parties over the coming weeks.

You can read our full manifesto for the industry HERE.