ACFO, the fleet operator trade body, has hit out at the scrappage scheme for failing to help British business, despite the decline in fleet sales slowing in September.

In a statement, the organisation said: “The worst fears of ACFO appear to have been realised in the latest new vehicle registration figures released.

“These figures reveal the massive decline in the sale of new cars and vans to businesses this year.

“The much-hyped scrappage scheme has failed to help Britain’s businesses which are traditionally responsible for buying at least 60% of all new cars sold and almost all vans, according to ACFO.”

September saw fleet sales account for just 37% of total registrations.

ACFO director Stewart Whyte said: “The scrappage scheme was launched in haste and amid much lobbying from the motor manufacturers and retailers. But it has helped only one sector of the marketplace – private buyers who are in the minority when it comes to buying vehicles. The scheme has done absolutely nothing to encourage businesses to renew their company cars and vans.”

ACFO said the Government ignored its pleas for the scrappage scheme to cover new and used car up to four years old and linked to a CO2 limit of either 160 or 165g/km.

Whyte added: “Many businesses have yet to see any signs of the much-talked about green shoots of recovery. With company finances remaining under pressure and no incentive scheme to take advantage, many public and private sector fleets are simply not in the market for new vehicles and are being forced to run older vehicles.

“This is not only damaging to new car and van sales, but also means that fleets, which have traditionally operated the majority of the newest cars in Britain and therefore led the drive towards lower emission vehicles, are struggling to help the Government’s environmental drive.”

He concluded: “It is probably too late for this Government to re-launch the scrappage scheme to make it more accessible to fleets. However, the Government and the motor industry should acknowledge that new car and van sales would probably have been significantly higher in 2009 if an incentive scheme had applied to the whole market and not just one minority section.”