“We urge the Government to redeploy its most effective business support measures as automotive retailers begin to recover from the disruption due to the pandemic”, said Sue Robinson, Chief Executive of the National Franchised Dealers Association (NFDA), which represents franchised car and commercial vehicle retailers in the UK.
In its recent submission ahead of the Budget taking place on 3 March 2021, NFDA has called on the Government to implement a number of measures that will help businesses recover as well as 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.
Sue Robinson commented: “The business rates holiday has been a lifeline for retailers, particularly vehicle retailers who are required to make significant investments into their sites and staff training to comply with manufacturer standards. A six-month extension of the full business rates holiday from April 2021 is necessary to support businesses over the coming months”.
During the pandemic, almost all motor retailers accessed the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, especially when only key staff working in essential maintenance and repair could continue to work.
Sue Robinson said: “It is vital that the capability to furlough staff in response to sudden drops in demand due to Coronavirus, or the imposition of new restrictions, is retained throughout 2021/2022. Extending the scheme will 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.
Sue Robinson said: “Huge levels of investments will be required by retailers 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. 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”.
Sue Robinson concluded: “As we look forward to the Budget, we will continue to liaise with relevant Government departments to address the issues facing our sector, providing industry insights and feedback on behalf of our members”.
About the RMI
The Retail Motor Industry represents the interests of operators in England, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Isle of Man providing sales and services to motorists and businesses. The RMI has a formal association with the independent Scottish Motor Trade Association which represents the retail motor industry in Scotland.