General Election 2017

Theresa May during a visit to Andrew Black Haulage in North Berwick after attending the Scottish Conservatives manifesto launch at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre (last week). Image: Press Association.

The RHA has welcomed the Conservative manifesto’s pledge to simplify the tax system this week but said the document lacked detail.

Launched by Prime Minister Theresa May ahead of the general election on 8 June, key measures include a pledge to seek a post-Brexit free trade and customs agreement with the EU; a move to simplify the tax system; and a commitment to continue a £40bn road and rail investment programme.

The manifesto also promises to develop the strategic road network, improve transport connections across the country and confirms its continuing commitment to HS2, the northern powerhouse rail project and the expansion of Heathrow Airport.

Plans to increase the National Living Wage to 60% of median earnings by 2020 are also in the manifesto along with a pledge to provide “greater protection” for gig economy workers.

The manifesto also lays out plans to simplify the tax system and reconfirms plans to increase the personal tax allowance to £12,500, to not raise VAT, to cut Corporation Tax from 20% to 17% and to reform business rates with more frequent evaluations.

Turning to Brexit, the manifesto promises the maintenance of the common travel area and “as frictionless a border as possible” between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland and pledges to seek “a deep and special partnership including a comprehensive free trade and customs agreement” with the EU.

Apprenticeships programmes will also be maintained, with the Conservative Party renewing its pledge to deliver 3 million by 2020. The manifesto also committs to allowing large firms to pass levy funds to small firms in their supply chains as well as placing apprentices within them.

RHA national policy director Jack Semple said. “It’s all very vague on what will happen when we come out of the customs union, which is no surprise, but it is still of concern. It is a known unknown and the manifesto reflects this.”

He added: “It would have been good to see more commitment to ensuring the standard of roads throughout the national road network, to developing roadside information technology and to the provision of good roadside facilities.”

The RHA welcomed the manifesto’s commitment to simplifying the tax system but called for the policy to be applied to the tax rules on drivers’ overnight allowances, which Semple said have been made “far too complex and confusing by HMRC and are completely at odds with any desire to simplify the tax system”.

The Liberal Democrats recently said they would ban diesel cars and vans if elected.