General Election 2010: LeasePlan's verdict
07 May 2010
David Brennan, LeasePlan managing director
LeasePlan managing director David Brennan:
Regardless of how long Gordon Brown remains as Prime Minister, the government will still need to tackle head-on the issue of economic recovery. LeasePlan - and I'm sure much of the industry - will be keeping a close eye on how this government is formed, to see what policies are developed around this vital industry issue. Labour, in its current form, is committed to increasing National Insurance, however they need to find other ways of addressing the pressure this will place on business. Equally they need to rapidly quash any uncertainty with regards to movements in VAT, fuel levies, at the same time ensuring that interest rates are properly managed.
"From the election outcome last night, the concern is that major issues such as these will not be given the focus they deserve and be properly implemented, with inefficiencies and indecision plaguing Westminster. Regardless of how the current decision plays out, the next government must consult with our industry to ensure that optimum solutions are reached, for the sake of the economy and the environment.
"The next five years for the fleet industry will bring a host of challenges to the fore. The car will remain a major business tool. This Labour Government needs to adopt a sensible set of policies in place that do not overly penalise businesses through taxation but rather support businesses and the role of the company car.
"Low carbon vehicles have been a major development over the last two years, with electric cars comes the age-old issue of infrastructure; Labour has talked at length on the importance of emissions and although the rhetoric has led to a greater awareness of the issue. They must now focus on providing a countrywide approach that doesn't cater solely for the city dweller and really delivers on their promise.
"They must also employ a pragmatic approach to risk. The issue of driver health and safety under the Labour government has led to an over-burdening in the industry of legislation that affects drivers. This new Government must call time on much of the unnecessary legislation that is already in place and support the industry through efficiency and simplification.
"A major issue not spoken about is congestion. Though many moan about it, there is little offered by way of a solution for this major problem. If the UK is at the forefront of technological innovations in low emissions vehicles and telematics, then surely this Government should consider solving this business critical issue through fresh initiatives that go beyond the blunt tool of more congestion charging zones.
"However, Government needs to go further than providing solutions for existing travel solutions and really recognise the need to help businesses and employees with personal mobility demands. Whilst the car is a vital business tool, introducing schemes that offer integrated travel solution across road, rail and public transport will become increasingly important.
"The public sector will be a focus for many as this new government settles in. Cut backs and redundancies have been mooted by all of the parties, though this government has to ensure any cut backs are not at the cost of the environment and the tax payer. Efficiency will be high on the priority list for this government and careful consideration must be given to both environmental and cost impacts that could result from significant cuts to public sector fleet budgets.
"This new Government must acknowledge the strategic importance of business mobility and the need to control the associated cost. They must now begin consultation with our industry before implementing policy change to ensure that optimum solutions are reached and time is not wasted, for the sake of the economy and the environment."