Fuel Card Services – The Tories may scrape through, but will fleets lose out? After a tense and surprising night of vote-counting, the UK’s Hung Parliament result has left fleet managers wondering whether to feel blue, or see red.
As of this morning, a live election results tracker shows the Tories are just a few seats shy of achieving the minimum number required to govern. A coalition with Northern Ireland’s DUP could swing it for the Conservatives, but then a “rainbow” coalition with the SNP, Lib Dems, and Greens could save the day for Labour. However, the Lib Dems have ruled out another coalition this time around, and the current government is always given the chance to pull together a workable government first.
Theresa May refuses to quit, so it’s looking likely that the Tories will scrape through. If so, what are the implications of continued Tory rule for Fleet managers? The first place to look is within the Conservative Party’s manifesto. But who has time? Fortunately, Fuel Card Services has sifted through this for you.
An initial read is encouraging: their manifesto reaffirms the Government’s plans to invest in transport infrastructure and electric vehicles. Specifically, it pledges to:
• Continue fulfilling pledge to ensure almost every car and van is emission-free by 2050, with previously announced investment of £600m by 2020 to help achieve this
• Proceed with programme of strategic national investments, including High Speed 2, Northern Powerhouse Rail and the expansion of Heathrow Airport
• Continue to develop the strategic road network with extra lanes on motorways and improving key routes, while paying attention to areas with poor transport connections and continuing to invest in roads to fix pinch points, as announced in the Autumn Statement
• Reduce insurance costs for drivers by cracking down on exaggerated and fraudulent whiplash claims
Although this list looks encouraging, the Labour Party has also stressed the downside of a Tory win. If the Tories stay in power, it would be advisable to manage your drivers’ expectations so they know the consequences are the result of Tory policy and not that of your company. For example, most of your drivers would face the prospect of income tax and National Insurance rises. A heads-up would help them budget for this.
Also, it’s vital we now keep careful watch on what Mrs May’s delayed plans for Brexit negotiations will be, which could see the biggest impact on the fleet and fuel management sector for decades. We all want to see the UK remaining a member of the European Economic Area, or otherwise secure tariff-free access to the Single Market. In the event of the Government deciding not to remain a part of the EEA, we need to lobby for a trade preference scheme to be established with the remaining EU Member States.
Fuel Card Services’ Group Marketing Manager, Steve Clarke, has worked in the sector for many years and seen governments come and go. He says, “the main problem is that, incredibly, parties are not legally bound by their Manifesto – it’s just a statement of intent. So you can’t be sure that a party will do even half of what they pledge.”
“What we can be sure of, is that fleet operations are not about to get cheaper. That’s why Fuel Card Services works with thousands of fleets every day to reduce their fuel costs with a comprehensive range of fuel cards accepted on virtually every UK forecourt. It also offers an invaluable set of simple, fleet management services ranging from sustainability strategy and emissions monitoring to whole-life vehicle costs and duty-of-care liability management.” Visit www.fuelcardservices.com for further information.