Fuel duty freeze continues for 13th year, but no mention of extension to temporary 5ppl fuel duty cut due to end in 2024.
£2bn earmarked for zero-emission vehicle development, reform electricity grid access and support business investment.
A boost for businesses, while motorists can breathe a sigh of relief, following today’s Autumn Statement by Chancellor Jeremy Hunt.
For motorists it was more a question of what wasn’t mentioned, rather than any particular positive support for drivers. Howard Cox, founder of FairFuelUK and London Mayoral Candidate for Reform UK, thanked the Chancellor for maintaining the freeze in Fuel Duty for the 13th year in succession: “I assume that is indeed the case by its absence in his speech,” said Cox.
Motorists are also still benefitting from the temporary 5ppl cut in fuel duty introduced for 2022-23 and 2023-24: ”The threat of Rishi Sunak’s Budget temporary 5ppl cut in duty being reversed in the 2024 Budget still hangs over motorists’ heads,” said Cox. ”That event could have been quashed completely today.”
However, with regards to future motoring, the Chancellor announced the earmarking of £2bn for zero-emission vehicle development, reform electricity grid access and business investment support.
Jon Lawes, managing director at Novuna Vehicle Solutions, said: “Policymakers have been sending mixed signals on the UK’s transition, so the plans announced in today’s Autumn Statement to earmark £2bn for zero-emission vehicle development, reform electricity grid access and support business investment are welcome.
“Now the government must show how this will lead to concrete outcomes, including with its promised consultation on fast-streaming EV charging rollout. There is an urgent need to boost net-zero infrastructure around the UK, and improve EV purchase incentives. It is vital that these measures translate into local investment which provides businesses and consumers with the confidence to make the switch”.
Mike Hawes, chief executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, said the announcement of £2 billion for zero emission advanced automotive manufacturing was an ”unequivocal vote of confidence in the sector”.
”The Chancellor’s statement today, with its focus on business growth, responds to our industry’s need for measures that allow UK automotive to compete for investment,” he said. ”The attractiveness of the UK will be bolstered by permanent full expensing and, given the importance of decarbonising the market and manufacturing, speeding up grid access.
“We now look forward to the government’s advanced manufacturing plan, its battery strategy and how it will support consumers in making the switch to zero emission motoring, as we must not only make these vehicles locally but sell them.”
Meanwhile, the Association of Convenience Stores welcomed the Chancellor’s support for local shops by extending the 75% business rates discount for retail and hospitality businesses through 2024-25.
A series of measures to boost business investment included the extension of the 75% rates discount and the freezing of the small business rates multiplier. The Chancellor also announced that 100% capital allowances on qualifying plant and machinery investments (full expensing) will be made permanent.
ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “We welcome the extension of the retail and hospitality reliefs on business rates, which will help thousands of retailers with the cost of trading during what remains an extremely challenging time. There remain fundamental issues with the business rates system that need to be addressed to provide fairness across the system in the long term, but today’s announcements will provide a much-needed boost to investment.”
The Autumn Statement follows a Treasury announcement earlier this week about the National Living Wage rate for 2024, which will rise to £11.44 per hour from April and will apply to workers aged 21 and above.
Lowman said: “Many of the smallest convenience stores who are already eligible for 100% rates relief so won’t see a material change from these announcements. Local retailers will be more concerned about how to absorb the cost of another significant jump in the National Living Wage rate, without any help to offset this huge increase in wage costs, such as reducing the burden of Employer National Insurance Contributions.”
“It was also disappointing that there was no mention of any increase in public spending, especially on policing, at a time when shoplifting and attacks on shop staff have reached epidemic proportions.”
Some wins, and some losses, was how the Federation of Independent Retailers (the Fed) viewed the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement announcements.
While extending the 75 per cent business rate relief and employers’ National Insurance relief for another year and a freeze on the small business multiplier are positives, the Fed says it is disappointed by the lack of help with energy costs and tackling retail crime.
National president Muntazir Dipoti said: “We are pleased that the Chancellor has taken on board our serious concerns about business rates, but our members are still struggling with extortionate energy bills.
“Our costs are rising all the time, and when you factor in the increase in the minimum wage to £11.44 an hour, some small shops will inevitably have to consider whether their businesses are viable and sustainable.”
Additional measures announced in today’s Autumn Statement include:
- Alcohol duties, including beer, wine, cider and spirits, will be frozen until August 1 next year.
- Employee National Insurance rate cut from 12% to 10% from January 6, 2024.
- Local authorities will be able to recover full costs of business planning applications to process applications quicker, or the application fee will be refunded.
- Duty rates on hand-rolling tobacco will rise by 10% above the existing tobacco duty escalator.
- Introducing a legal right for workers to require employers to pay into their existing pension pot.
- Class 2 National Insurance contributions for self employed people abolished.