Transport and logistics industry calls on Chancellor for essential change

Monday 16 October 2023

Industry bodies across the logistics and transport sectors have today (16 October) called for a new approach to strategic transport infrastructure decisions, to avoid disruption caused by political cycles and the stop-start decisions that increase costs and harm business confidence. 


Ahead of the five yearly National Infrastructure Assessment, Logistics UK – in partnership with Railway Industry Association, British Ports Association, UK Warehousing Association and Rail Freight Group – has written to Chancellor of the Exchequer, Jeremy Hunt, highlighting the need for a clear, long-term plan that endures across political cycles. Together, the business groups have urged the Chancellor to commit to this within the upcoming Autumn Statement, as well as called for all parties to make the commitment within their manifestos ahead of the next election.  


Logistics UK Chief Executive, David Wells, commented: “Stop-start decisions are a barrier to the infrastructure that the logistics system requires to boost the UK's economic growth. Decisions made today have enduring consequences. For the sake of both businesses and consumers, a consistent – and transparent – investment pipeline is needed to ensure sectors can confidently plan for the future, today.” 


Darren Caplan, Chief Executive of the Railway Industry Association commented: “After the sudden government announcement in October to scrap HS2 from Birmingham to Manchester, with no consultation, the UK badly needs to find a way to convince businesses and investors that we can commit to and deliver major infrastructure schemes. Long-term planning is more vital than ever.  


“Right now, businesses in our sector face unprecedented uncertainty. We hope the government uses the National Infrastructure Commission’s assessment as a turning point.  We need to see credible commitments from government, and a good starting point would be a long-term transport plan which goes beyond political cycles, and a clear policy on private finance for infrastructure.” 


Richard Ballantyne OBE, Chief Executive, British Ports Association said: 

“Freight, logistics and ports are essential to the UK’s economy and so it is vital that we have the infrastructure to support what we do. In particular, improving transport capability and capacity across the logistics industry will be vital to drive efficiencies in freight operations. In terms of ports this means having good quality road and rail links to our international gateways and regional hubs. Additionally, moving towards Net Zero we also need much better grid connectivity as well the digital infrastructure to improve our trading environment. There is definitely a role for policy makers to identify and improve the UK’s infrastructure to help the UK compete.” 


Clare Bottle, UKWA CEO, commented: “UKWA is in full support of this call on the government to commit to a clear long-term investment plan for freight infrastructure. From a warehousing point of view, the rise of ecommerce has driven demand for more space, closer to centres of population. Investment in residential development must go hand-in-hand with the necessary investment in freight infrastructure that will enable the industry to continue to deliver goods to businesses and consumers sustainably.” 


Maggie Simpson OBE, Director General Rail Freight Group, said: “Businesses want to invest in UK rail freight, but they need certainty and confidence to do so.  A long term plan, and a solid commitment to infrastructure delivery, is essential to unlock growth and productivity and to decarbonise supply chains.”