The National Franchised Dealers Association (NFDA) has commented on the Chancellor’s announcements at this week’s Spring Statement.
NFDA Chief Executive Sue Robinson said the Chancellor “has taken a number of positive steps, however, the measures announced fall short of supporting businesses as they recover from the pandemic and face current challenges such as soaring costs”.
On 1 April, the Business Rates Relief will drop from 66% to 50%; additionally, the maximum each business can claim will fall from £2m to just £110,000. For franchised dealers with more than a handful of sites, this means most of them will pay full rates. Positively, the business rates multiplier will be frozen for 2022/2023.
Whilst it is positive that the Government recognised the need to extend the Business Rates Holiday, it is extremely disappointing that the claim rate has been reduced as this will exclude most dealer groups.
As previously planned, national insurance for employers and employees will increase by a combined 2.5% from April 2022. However, the Chancellor has announced the Government will increase the level at which employees start paying national insurance by £3,000 to £12,570.
Sue Robinson said: “As the cost of living increases for households across the UK, it is welcome news that the national insurance threshold will be raised. However, confirming the previously planned increase in National Insurance is unhelpful and will add further strain to people’s disposable income.
“Increasing the tax burden on businesses sends the wrong message at the wrong time. The rise in National Insurance is a massive blow to small and medium sized franchised dealer groups as they deal with a number of significant challenges including loss of earnings due to vehicle stock and supply issues, as well as staff shortages due to Brexit and Covid-19”.
Fuel duty cut
The Chancellor has announced a 5p fuel duty cut which will remain in place until March next year. The fuel duty cut is welcome news as it will contribute to offsetting the steeply rising costs facing households across the UK.
Apprenticeship levy review
The Chancellor said the Government will consider whether the apprenticeship levy is doing enough to “incentivise businesses to invest in the right kinds of training”.
“The automotive industry is fully committed to investing in apprenticeships and it is encouraging that the Government will review the current apprenticeship levy in line with NFDA’s recommendations. In particular, in our submission and at previous meetings we have called on the Government to extend the Apprenticeship Levy clawback period by 18 months to support the recovery of automotive apprentices’ recruitment”.
Levelling Up Fund
The Government is launching the second round of the Levelling Up Fund. This Fund provides £4.8 billion for local infrastructure projects, with £1.7 billion already allocated to 105 successful projects from the first round.
Positively, the Government has previously allocated a part the first round of Levelling Up Fund to upgrading EV charging networks in Northern Ireland. With the second round of the Fund, we encourage the Government go further and adopt a similar approach with the rest of the UK.
Additional measures announced today include a 1% cut to the basic rate of income tax in 2024 (from 20% to 19%) and an increase in Employment Allowance to £5,000.
Sue Robinson concluded: “It is crucial that the Government does all in its powers to support businesses and consumers to counterbalance the cost-of-living strain facing the country. As an industry, this is coupled with the challenging deadlines we are striving to meet to successfully transition to zero emission transportation.