“More detail” needed on Labour manifesto proposals

“More detail” is needed from the Labour Party on a range of proposals affecting fleets contained in its new manifesto, says the Association of Fleet Professionals (AFP).

The document includes commitments to restore the phase-out date of 2030 for new cars with internal combustion engines, support the transition to electric vehicles (EVs) by accelerating the roll out of charge points, and support buyers of second-hand electric cars by standardising the information supplied on the condition of batteries.

Paul Hollick, APF chair, said: “Unless the polling industry is in the process of making perhaps the biggest error in its history, it looks very much as though Labour will form the next government with a majority, so this manifesto is of very real interest to fleets. The key ideas that it contains are fine in principle but much more detail is needed on the proposals.

“Dealing with them in turn, the 2030 EV production deadline is now of limited importance compared to the ZEV Mandate, which is really the main control mechanism affecting EV sales in the UK. It would be useful to know whether Labour intends to keep the same rate of adoption as currently stipulated. Certainly, there are many people in the wider motor industry, if not perhaps fleet, who would like to see it slowed given current retail EV sales.

“Accelerating the roll-out of EV charge points would be welcome. There is no news in the manifesto document on how this would be done or what kind of targets would be adopted, although Labour has previously talked about removing planning restrictions and providing better guidance to councils, and these measures could have an effect. Especially, there needs to be much greater emphasis on getting chargers in the right places.

“Finally, a government-standardised battery health check would undoubtedly be very useful, providing a high degree of reassurance for used EV buyers, but we also believe that this is an area that almost certainly needs a degree of financial support, such as through used EV grants or low-cost loans. How likely we are to see those moves from a Labour Party that continually stresses the need for financial control is open to question, however.”

Paul said that a manifesto commitment to repair an additional one million potholes every year was a more concrete plan and was very much to be welcomed, as was a promise to retain a full expensing system for capital investment. However, uncertainty over fuel duty would be a worry for some fleets. Shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves earlier this week refused to rule out future increases, although there was no mention in the manifesto document.

“We’ve now had more than a decade of fuel duty freezes, so fleets have very much become accustomed to taxation at the current rate. At a point in time when company transport budgets are very much under pressure, any increase will be very much unwelcome.”

He added that the AFP had recently published its Tax & Regulation Manifesto 2024 and urged the potential new government to examine the ideas it contained as soon as possible.

“There are relatively simple measures that could be carried out by any new Labour government – such as sorting out the ongoing confusion affecting 4.25 tonne electric vans and producing company car benefit in kind taxation tables up to 2030 – that could be done easy and quickly, and would win friends in fleet. We have already spoken to some members of the shadow cabinet in recent months and would hope to intensify this dialogue if the expected election result materialises.”

The AFP Tax & Regulation Manifesto 2024 can be downloaded here

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