The government’s promise to provide a £330bn package of financial measures to keep the UK industry afloat has been welcomed by hauliers, although questions remain over how quickly they can access help.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak said the government was prepared to do whatever it takes to shore up the economy and protect jobs and incomes with an unprecedented rescue package in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The measures include grants, loans and a business rates holiday, but companies and business groups urged the government to act with speed and stay ahead of the economic impact.

Dame Carolyn Fairbairn, CBI director general, said the move would help firms protect jobs and businesses, but she added: “Urgent decisions are also needed on wages.

“It is clear this situation will not stand still, so nor can the economic support. The pace of change is too fast to play catch up.”

RHA chief executive Richard Burnett (pictured) said: “This is good news for the thousands of businesses that are suffering as a result of the impact of the current pandemic.

“For UK hauliers in particular it’s good news.

“Their profit margins stand at between 1% and 2% and many are already operating on a knife-edge. For them, these measures represent the difference between make or break.”

Dave Ashford, transport director at KBC Logistics, said delaying the introduction of tax reform IR35 was “a great help” but questioned how companies would access grants and loans: “How do you apply? At what point do you apply, as things can change very quickly which also leads to the question how long does it take to get the help?”

Ashford added: “Everyone wants a piece of the hauliers flesh until there is a national crisis and then we are allowed to break drivers hours and use roads that are normally restricted in London.

“The authorities are loaded with hypocrites in my opinion.”

The SMMT described the UK automotive industry as “inherently strong” but that it now stood on the precipice: “We now seek immediate dialogue with government to agree how such a comprehensive package of measures can ensure business continuity and support for workers,” said Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive.

“The continued success of this industry is critical not just to the country’s economic performance but also to the hundreds of thousands of people across the country who rely on the sector for their livelihoods.”