Spring Statement receives muted response
Yesterday's Spring Statement has received a muted response from the automotive industry due to it's lack of detail, although Chancellor Philip Hammond did announce the government would publish papers on mobility, Insurance Premium Tax and emissions in the coming months.
The Chancellor said that the government would publish Future of Mobility: Urban Strategy – a publication setting out its approach to putting the UK at the forefront of mobility, and responding to the significant changes taking place in transport technology – such as the growth in electric vehicles, the development of self-driving vehicles and advances in data and internet connectivity.
Further, the Insurance Premium Tax operational review would a call for evidence on where improvements could be made to ensure that Insurance Premium Tax operated fairly and efficiently.
The government would also publish Offsetting Transport Emissions – a call for evidence to explore consumer understanding of the emissions from their journeys and their options to offset them and thereby travel 'zero carbon'. It will also look into whether travel providers should be required to offer carbon offsets to their customers.
With the focus on Brexit, the Spring Statement was mainly noteworthy for what it didn't address.
For example, the fleet industry had hoped the speech would indicate the direction of travel on any changes to the existing company car benefit-in-kind tax and Vehicle Excise Duty regimes from April 2020 in the wake of last year's introduction of the Worldwide harmonised Light vehicles Test Procedure (WLTP).
However, the Chancellor merely stated that 'in the coming months' the Government would publish its response to its recent call for evidence in relation to its review into the impact of WLTP on company car tax benefit-in-kind tax and Vehicle Excise Duty.
The lack of clarity means that fleets and company car drivers continue to have no idea as to what company car benefit-in-kind tax rates will be from 2021/22.
There was also no word from the Chancellor on the future shape of Vehicle Excise Duty for light commercial vehicles.
However, the Chancellor did announce £60m of investment from the Government's Transforming Cities Fund in 10 cities across England.
The cash will fund 30 new schemes such as bus station upgrades, new cycle lanes and road improvements, supporting the wider programmes being delivered by city regions as part of the Government's Industrial Strategy.
The 10 cities were selected for the competitive fund in September 2018, and are: Derby and Nottingham, £7.2m; Southampton, £5.7m; Leicester, £7.8m; North East Combined Authority, £10m; Portsmouth, £4m; Norwich, £6.1m; Sheffield City Region, £4.2m; Plymouth, £7.m; West Yorkshire Combined Authority, £2.2m; and Stoke-on-Trent, £5.6m.