The National Franchised Dealers Association (NFDA) has urged the Government to redeploy its most effective business support measures as automotive retailers begin to recover from the disruption due to the pandemic.

In the submission ahead of the Budget taking place on 3 March 2021, NFDA has called on the Government to implement a series of measures that will help businesses recover from the current challenges as well as steps to facilitate the transition to zero-emission vehicles.

Business rates holiday

One of the most welcome forms of financial support offered by the Government during this crisis has been the 12-month business rates holiday for the 2020/21 financial year. NFDA expects a lag between the re-opening of showrooms and the return to ordinary levels of vehicle sales and as a result, an extension to the full business rates holiday is essential.

The business rates holiday has been a lifeline for retailers, especially vehicle retailers who are generally required to make large investments into their sites and staff training to comply with manufacturer standards. NFDA has deemed “necessary” a six-month extension of the full business rates holiday from April 2021 to support businesses over the coming months.

Furlough scheme extension

During the pandemic, nearly all motor retailers who provided feedback to NFDA accessed the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, particularly during the times when only key staff working in essential maintenance and repair could continue to work.

NFDA believes it is vital that retailers can retain throughout 2021/2022 the capability to furlough staff in response to sudden drops in demand due to Coronavirus, or the imposition of new restrictions. This extension would give retailers confidence to retain their staff and draw up more optimistic recruitment plans for the year ahead.

Supporting the transition to EVs

NFDA suggested the introduction of an EV Infrastructure Investment Allowance to incentivise retailers to accelerate their plans to install electric chargepoint infrastructure at their sites.

Huge levels of investments will be required to meet the UK Government’s ambition to end the sale of petrol and diesel cars by 2030. Accelerating the transition to zero-emission vehicles should be supported by incentivising private investment into chargepoints.

NFDA also highlighted that incentives will continue to be essential also to bolster consumer demand: the Plug-In Vehicle Grants should be maintained this year to ensure that the strong growth the EV market saw in 2020 is sustained in 2021.