Thursday, April 30, 2020

Logistics Associations Appeal to Government for Aid During Pandemic, and Beyond to Brexit

Transport Lobby Groups Ask For, and Offer Assistance
Shipping News Feature

UK – Two of the leading industry Associations have made their cases to government today for assistance for the logistics sector in different areas of the profession. Whilst the Road Haulage Association (RHA) is concentrating on the plight of many smaller hauliers, the Freight Transport Association (FTA) is concerned for its members which reside in, or trade with, Northern Ireland.

Firstly those road haulage operators, the RHA chief executive, Richard Burnett, has today written to the chancellor outlining five measures which the Association believes could prove key to alleviating the multitude of problems facing thousands of small trucking outfits. These are:

  • A 100%, government-backed, invoice financing package (debt support).
  • Moving to a weekly furlough of staff to provide a flexible return to businesses.
  • A suspension of fuel duty and a rebate for hauliers.
  • A business rates holiday for all hauliers’ sites.
  • A lorry retention scheme for vehicles not being used (sector specific).

A recent RHA survey found that 46% of the UK’s truck fleet is not operating and 25% of drivers are furloughed. Richard Burnett commented:

“Road hauliers are the key workers that are keeping the economy moving in these extraordinary times. They’re keeping the nation fed by keeping shop shelves stocked and making sure that the thousands of front-line medical staff are supplied with the PPE they so desperately need, 24/7.

“If the economy is to recover from this it is important that we can switch on the supply chain as individual sectors begin their recovery. No-one knows for sure when that will be, but we must make sure that the industry is up and ready to go at very short notice. We recognise that we need to play the fullest role possible in the UK’s recovery and these measures would ensure we can do just that.”

For its part the FTA today launched its Northern Ireland Protocol Policy Report, a document to highlight the key measures its members from across the logistics sector believe are needed to keep trade between Northern Ireland (NI) and Great Britain (GB) moving as efficiently as possible once the Brexit transition period concludes on 31 December 2020.

Within the document, FTA also outlines the measures its members believe government should take to grow NI-GB trade in the future, in addition to protecting current trade; it also highlights existing trade flows and volumes and identifies the actions needed to ensure the continued efficient movement for those freight movements. Seamus Leheny, Policy Manager for Northern Ireland at FTA comments:

“Logistics is an adaptable and resilient industry; we are determined to make a success of the protocol and this report is designed to assist government in this shared ambition. The protocol puts NI in the unique position of being able to trade freely with the UK and EU while protecting all island supply chains on the Island of Ireland.

”However, we must ensure NI businesses are not disadvantaged within the UK internal market by any burdensome financial or practical barriers to this trade. In FTA’s Report, we set out the agreed text of the protocol and detail how we believe this will translate into the practical movement of goods between NI and GB under the new, post-transition UK-EU relationship.

“We have launched the report today to coincide with the next official government meeting on the protocol; it is vital the government listens to the guidance of industry and understands the measures it should take to keep goods moving as efficiently as possible. Flexible, frictionless trade between NI and GB is vitally important to the continued success of our economy and the logistics industry is committed to protecting supply chains and continuing to move goods across the Irish Sea as seamlessly as possible.

Photo: Port of Belfast (courtesy of Belfast Harbour)