Ryan Barnett

Following a turbulent 12 months for the nation, the 2021 Spring Budget was vital in laying out the path to Britain’s economic recovery. In the view of Logistics UK  and its members, there were many positive aspects of the Budget.

But Chancellor Rishi Sunak could have gone further to invest in training programmes to help fill the growing number of vacancies in the industry, and, at the same time, help to reduce the national rate of unemployment following the pandemic.

While the provision of funding to train new entrants to the logistics sector is a positive step forward, the industry needs new recruits now. Logistics UK is calling on government to provide a more flexible method of direct support to those looking to retrain and reskill into vital operational roles such as HGV drivers and transport managers.

The continuation of the furloughing scheme is positive news for the industry, and while this announcement will ensure businesses across the industry can maintain their workforces for when the economy reopens, it is important that industry receives the support needed to fill the significant skills gap that currently exists.

The average cost for a 12-month apprenticeship training and licence acquisition is £7,000: government support to make interest-free loans or grants immediately available would help to allow those affected by job losses as a result of the pandemic to retrain and, at the same time, fill the roles that the logistics industry needs.

Overall, the Budget contained many positive measures for the logistics industry, such as the commitment to a multi-billion-pound investment into infrastructure which is vital for logistics to support the needs of UK businesses.

Logistics UK is delighted with the confirmation of eight successful freeport bids, although is urging government to consider expanding the programme.

The freeze on fuel duty has also been welcomed by businesses across the logistics sector as another charge to fragile businesses could have been devastating to organisations that are yet to fully re-open or see the first signs of recovery.

The logistics sector is crucial as it works to support all other sectors of the economy and while this Budget was an encouraging step forward in many areas, Logistics UK will continue to work with members and government to ensure industry is able to recover efficiently and continue to meet the needs of the nation.

Ryan Barnett, economics and research manager, Logistics UK