While there was indeed some business rate relief, a more fundamental change in rates is essential. This would help incentivise UK businesses and foreign companies to invest in the plant and machinery that a modern, competitive, and decarbonised automotive sector needs.
We are starting to see some of the detail emerging from the commitments to Bus Back Better and Gear Change. There is a provision of around £3 billion over this Parliament, which includes a dedicated commitment of £1.2 billion for bus transformation deals to deliver London-style services, fares, and infrastructure improvements to other urban areas, and £355 million of new funding for zero emission buses. All very welcome, although questions remain over rural bus provision.
We also see long overdue investment of £32.5m in roadside facilities for long-suffering HGV drivers, new skills bootcamps to train an additional 5,000, and an increase in the number of HGV driving tests available, by up to 50,000 each year.
With these and other measures there appears to be recognition of the importance of the automotive sector, its ability to drive innovation and exports, and to create well-paid, highly skilled, green jobs across the country.