Simon Hobbs 01 (1024x683)

Kinaxia Logistics chief executive Simon Hobbs (pictured) has welcomed today's (March 11) Budget in which the Chancellor promised that the NHS will get "whatever it needs, whatever it costs" to tackle the coronavirus outbreak.

Rishi Sunak said his three-point £1bn plan to tackle the impact of the virus on the UK workforce would include extending access to statutory sick pay and allowing anyone self-isolating to get a sick note over the phone.

He also promised that the government would make it "easier" to access benefits, with no need to attend job centres.

“It’s great to see the immediate and positive reaction to minimise the financial impact of the coronavirus on businesses and the economy," Hobbs said.

"The 14-day statutory sick pay recovery will assist those businesses with less than 250 employees. Financial support for the NHS is also welcomed."

The Budget also included a £27bn pledge to improve the UK's road network and a further £2.5bn to fix potholes.

“From our industry perspective – the road haulage and warehousing sector – the £27bn investment in the transport infrastructure and the further investment in green transportation is much needed and will reduce congestion and the impact on our environment," Hobbs continued.

“Repairing potholes – hooray and well overdue. Retaining the freeze on fuel duty is a benefit to all, whilst abolishing the tax relief on red diesel for the majority of sectors seems a small prize and unnecessary.

“The increase in the minimum wage and increasing the National Insurance threshold to £9,500 and is positive, as is the small business rates relief.”

Added Christopher Snelling, FTA head of UK policy: “The FTA has been urging government to commit to a programme of infrastructure improvement for several years; we are thrilled to see the Chancellor has pledged to spend billions of pounds on upgrades across the UK.

"Businesses within the logistics sector rely on safe, effective and well-maintained road networks to keep goods moving across the UK, but the poor state of roads across the nation has compromised their ability to do so; the economic performance of the country has suffered as a result.

"Now, we are calling on government to press ahead urgently with its plans; the UK’s road and rail network has been subject to chronic under-investment for many years and this programme is long overdue.”

However, Snelling was also critical of the Government's plans to increase tax on red diesel.

“The FTA is urging government to reconsider its decision to increase the tax rate on red diesel as this will be very damaging to the businesses that rely on the fuel to keep vital products and services moving across the country when it comes into force," he claimed.

"This move will not incentivise companies to transition to newer, cleaner diesel units, because they are no more fuel efficient; if anything, it will slow progress as companies will balance the increased running costs by keeping their current equipment longer.

“We are currently working with governmental departments to assess how to accelerate progression to cleaner units, but instead of waiting for this solution, we believe the government is taking this blunt, ineffective and costly action to give the appearance of progress, without regard to the realities of the use of these units.”