The home improvement and automotive industries are calling for further support ahead of the UK Budget on Wednesday 3 March 2021.
The call comes amidst a backdrop of a troubled UK car manufacturing sector - January output slid -27.3%, the 17th consecutive monthly decline and worst January since 2009.
The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said £11.3 billion of car production has been lost due to the pandemic, with global supply chain issues, extended shutdowns and Brexit-based trade friction heaping further difficulties on the ailing sector.
Exports accounted for more than eight in 10 cars made in January, however shipments to major markets all fell in double digits; Eu down -26.2%, US down -34.5% and Asia down -36.1%.
The SMMT is urging the Chancellor to use next week’s Budget to announce measures that enhance UK automotive manufacturing competitiveness, with an extension of Covid-19 business support schemes including the CJRS furlough, amendments to business rates reform to incentivise manufacturing investment and more support for skills and training.
“Yet another month of decline for UK car production is a grave concern and next week’s Budget is the Chancellor’s opportunity to boost the industry by introducing measures that will support competitiveness, jobs and livelihoods," said Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive. "Whilst there have been some very welcome recent announcements, we need to secure our medium to long-term future by creating the conditions that will attract battery gigafactory investment and transform the supply chain. Most immediately, however, we must get our Covid-secure car showrooms back open, ideally before 12 April. This will be the fastest way to UK automotive manufacturing recovery.”
Meanwhile, the British Institute of Kitchen, Bedroom and Bathroom Installation (BIKBBI) - which represents tradespeople and small businesses in the home improvement sector - is lobbying for the Chancellor to "breathe new life" into the government's levelling up agenda with a package of support targeted at tradespeople and small businesses that work in homes in every community in the country. It has outlined a three-point plan for next week’s budget that will help create jobs in every part of the UK.
- Stimulate the kitchen, bedroom and bathroom (KBB) market by encouraging people to invest in their homes with a review on a VAT cut targeted at home improvement products and services;
- Revive the high street with rates relief for independent KBB showrooms that have had to to close their doors while larger trade suppliers remained open;
- Ensure that young people can take up the opportunities of a thriving home improvement industry by investing in skills and vocational training.
Damian Walters, Chief Executive of BiKBBI, said: “The Chancellor has a chance to kick start local economies in every part of the UK if he backs Britain’s army of hard-working kitchen fitters and the independent showrooms next week. The home improvement industry offers secure, skilled work for people from every walk of life while independent showrooms bring vitality to our high streets. Thanks to this, communities in every part of the UK stand to benefit from the Chancellor taking up our recommendations.”
The association added: "The industry’s independent retailers were forced to close their doors while larger competitors carried on trading thanks to loopholes that allowed them to classify as trade suppliers. The loss of business could force many shops to close for good, doing further damage to high streets that are already struggling."