Government misses opportunity to cut red tape and reduce inflation

Monday 02 October 2023

Today’s (2 October 2023) “motorist’s friend” speech by Transport Secretary Mark Harper MP at the Conservative Party Conference has missed the chance to drive down inflation by cutting the red tape that hinders logistics businesses, according to business group Logistics UK.

Speaking after the Minister’s speech in Manchester, Logistics UK’s Chief Executive David Wells OBE highlighted the issues currently holding the industry back:

“Logistics delivers big public value on small margins, ensuring the availability of the products that households, businesses and public services rely on every day,” he said.

“Our members are fully committed to playing their part to help the UK achieve net zero, and have invested in new vehicles, additional safety equipment and driver training to improve air quality and road safety – both of which are key priorities for our sector.

“However, in response to the environmental agenda, a local patchwork of different schemes has emerged which is driving up bureaucracy and administration for our members and increasing costs for consumers. The wide range of rules and requirements between regions and the ever-changing regulations are simply adding costs and complexity to the task of moving goods from A to B.”

Mr Wells continues: “With national standards for Low Traffic Neighbourhoods, Clean Air Zones, low and zero emission zones, we could achieve the same outcomes for cleaner air and reduced congestion, while minimising costs for logistics operators and inflation for customers. We are keen to see a nationwide, interoperable portal for collecting payments, and consistency in the standards against which payment levels are set, such as stipulating Euro 6/VI for diesel, Euro 4 for petrol and Euro 3 for motorcycles.

“Our industry wants to see traffic flow improved and pot holes fixed, and looks forward scrutinising the details on today’s announcement, but our industry also needs a fair, standardised approach nationwide for charging logistics operators. This would enable the sector to budget more effectively and invest in the green transition while keeping costs down on the shelves.”

Speaking after Mr Harper’s speech today, Mr Wells was disappointed at the lack of vision shown in the plan at a time when, as he explained, logistics has the opportunity to drive productivity and help to reduce the inflation which is affecting the economy. As well as speeding deliveries to the end user and reducing the costs of decarbonisation to all, recent research by Oxford Economics and Logistics UK identifies that government backing for logistics, including the lifting of barriers that inhibit the sector, could boost annual UK GDP by up to £7.9 billion per year by 2030.

“Logistics is the lifeblood of the economy,” he continued, “driving every part of every business. Our members are keen to play their part in progressing the country’s passage to Net Zero, but need clarity from government to create confidence and build the conditions from which to invest effectively.”

Logistics UK is one of the UK’s leading business groups, representing logistics businesses which are vital to keeping the UK trading, and more than seven million people directly employed in the making, selling and moving of goods. With decarbonisation, Brexit, new technology and other disruptive forces driving change in the way goods move across borders and through the supply chain, logistics has never been more important to UK plc. Logistics UK supports, shapes and stands up for safe and efficient logistics, and is the only business group which represents the whole industry, with members from the road, rail, water and air industries, as well as the buyers of freight services such as retailers and manufacturers whose businesses depend on the efficient movement of goods.