Responding to the Chancellor’s Spring Statement yesterday March 23, UK Warehousing Association CEO Clare Bottle commented:
“While the contribution of warehousing and logistics to the UK economy and our vital role during the pandemic has been acknowledged by Government – most recently by Minister of Employment Mims Davies MP – fine words have once again failed to translate into firm action.
“The 7.4% inflation forecasts announced today are alarming for low margin businesses like warehousing, as we see increases in rent, energy costs and especially labour. Ultimately, our members will have to pass these costs on to their customers, who will no doubt increase charges to consumers, driving up inflation further.
“On apprenticeships, the Chancellor recognised that the Apprenticeship Levy is “not doing enough”; and indeed, by the end of last year, the Transport and Logistics sector had contributed £700 million to the Apprenticeship Levy since its introduction in April 2017, yet the value we are getting remains limited, with less than a quarter of that expenditure recovered through logistics-based Apprenticeships. *
“HGV driver apprenticeships have been revamped and we need to do the same for warehousing apprenticeships. UKWA is doing its part, having very recently appointed a new head of training, but Government must do more.
“Homeowners are being helped with 0% VAT on energy saving, but what about small businesses? We believe warehouses can be especially effective in harnessing the benefits of Solar PV. Again, UKWA has commissioned independent research on this, but it’s time for Government to look beyond the domestic market and support small businesses in their efforts to increase sustainability.
“Finally, on business rates, despite repeated representations from UKWA and others, yet again, warehousing has been ignored. The Chancellor’s announcement of business rates discount makes £1.7 billion available for business, but not a penny of that will help warehousing companies.
“At a time when our members are facing crippling cost rises due to inflation, have absorbed the impact of Brexit and successive national lockdowns, it’s about time the Government started to listen to us. Government initiatives like net zero and levelling-up will only be delivered if they commit to providing meaningful, practical support to warehousing. Our industry is key to the nation’s economic recovery.”