Car dealers call for Government support in wake of coronavirus outbreak

Car dealers are calling on Government help for their industry as it tries to recover from the effects of the coronavirus oubtreak and lockdown.

Retailers have expressed support for a variety of measures ranging from cutting business rates to grant schemes and a delay on the proposed petrol and diesel ban.

Despite around half of dealers saying they were “completely confident” about their business’ future, three in 10 are concerned about the impact of a long-term economic downturn and more than one in 10 (13 per cent) is worried about the effects of a second wave of the virus.

The new car market collapsed during lockdown, with registrations down 97 per cent in April, and has seen varied performance in the months since lockdown eased, with a surge in sales in July but a slide back in registrations in August.

(Photo: Shutterstock)

According to a poll of dealers by Close Brothers Motor Finance, a quarter would like to see the Government cut business rates for the trade to help bring down their costs as they try improve sales.

A further fifth believe that the current furlough scheme and relief package should be gradually phased out rather than coming to a sudden end in October and just under a fifth (17 per cent) would like to see prolonged support with grants and loans for businesses.

The survey also found some support for moving the proposed ban on diesel and petrol cars back from 2035, with 12 per cent of dealers feeling this was necessary to help the sector’s recovery.

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Seán Kemple, managing director of Close Brothers Motor Finance said government support for car dealers would have a knock-on benefit for associated industries.

He commented: “No person, company, or sector has gone unaffected by the Covid-19 pandemic. For the motor industry, the lockdown came just as optimism was improving following a challenging few years. Dealers have been hit hard, but they’re resilient; if anything, now is the chance to build back better and improve the sector for years to come.

“To do this, Government support is vital. Emergency measures such as cuts to business rates, the furlough scheme, and frozen fuel duties, have been invaluable. As the lockdown continues to lift, all attention is on how to keep the UK recession as short as possible, working towards a V-shaped recovery. Measures which help the motor industry will have a knock-on effect to manufacturing, retail, and unemployment, so it’s crucial that the Government, dealers, manufacturers, and finance providers work together to find a solution as quickly as possible.”