Demands and advice for the next government…

Andrew Galliers, Director and Transport and Logistics sector specialist at accountancy and strategic advisory firm Menzies LLP , comments, “Transport & logistics companies in the UK typically want the government to prioritise infrastructure investments to improve transport and logistics networks, reduce congestion, and streamline customs processes. They also often advocate for policies that support the free movement of goods, minimise regulatory barriers, and promote sustainable transportation practices. Also, logistics companies may seek government support for skills training and workforce development to address growing labour shortages.

Running through the Labour, Conservative, and Liberal Democrat manifestos for 2024 reflects differing priorities and approaches to addressing these industries’ challenges. While Labour focuses on increasing funding and oversight to drive job creation and economic growth, the Conservatives prioritise market principles and innovation to boost efficiency and competitiveness. The Liberal Democrats, on the other hand, prioritise sustainability and environmental concerns in their approach to improving transport and logistics systems. Each party’s proposals will undoubtedly shape the future of these critical sectors and impact the lives of millions of people who rely on them for their daily transportation needs.”

Facilities improvement must be a priority for the next government – Ashton Cull, RHA Public Affairs manager

Better facilities and more safe and secure parking for drivers remain key priorities for us. Commercial vehicle drivers are vital to our economy. Yet, they still face poor facilities at service stations and truck stops throughout the country, including a severe lack of secure parking.

We have seen significant progress in recognising the importance of truck and coach parking in recent years, including accepting the outstanding negative issues and measures to help address them.

Lorry parking utilisation is at crisis levels in key freight corridors and very high in many other areas. Drivers require and deserve secure conditions where they can rest and recuperate. Adequate facilities are vitally important for driver welfare, including their physical, mental, and overall well-being.

Seven hundred people in the UK are diagnosed with diabetes each and every day, and the sedentary nature of drivers work makes them particularly vulnerable to health issues such as diabetes. With a rise in the number of drivers with diabetes in recent years, there is understandable concern within the industry about the poor quality of food choices and the lack of exercise facilities available at many Truck stops nationwide. We continue to work closely with partners such as the Diabetes Safety Organisation to raise diabetes awareness within our sector.

The poor conditions of roadside facilities and lack of safe and secure commercial vehicle parking availability have been recognised as key issues around recruitment, retention, and diversity in the driver pool.

Not only are good quality services important to driver health and well-being, but so is safety. We have seen a concerning rise in freight crime across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. A lack of proper security means valuable loads are a target for organised criminals, affecting the quality of rest drivers can get whilst stopped at these sites. The National Vehicle Crime Intelligence Service (NaVCIS) reported that in 2023, there were 5,373 reports of HGV and cargo crime across the UK, resulting in an estimated cost of the loss in value from thefts alone of £68 million.

It’s important to acknowledge the good work that has already taken place. The Future of Freight strategy and DfT Lorry Parking Survey have recognised and quantified the extent of the problem. The £52.5m match funding first announced in March 2023 is already being used to make significant improvements in England.

The 12-month Task and Finish Group, of which I am a vice-chair, identifies what industry experts can do to tackle the poor quality and quantity of safe, secure truck parking spaces in the UK.

We have made progress in improving facilities for drivers, but there is still a long way to go and much work ahead. Many of the aspirations set out in the Future of Freight Strategy remain just that. It is important that this General Election does not slow down the pace of reform in this area.

The RHA is also calling on the next Government to:

  • Complete and publish proposed planning system reforms, including the National Planning Policy Framework and the Development Consent Order process, codifying the importance of truck parking in the decision-making process and making it quicker and easier to build new sites.
  • Commit to the work of the Facilities Task and Finish Group, engaging with them directly on planning reforms and working to find new ways government and industry can collaborate to address these challenges.
  • Encourage local authorities to include specific references to truck parking in their local plans, including guidance on appropriate sites for new facilities and circumstances where support should be given to applications.
  • Ensure that nationally significant infrastructure projects and National Highways schemes (including those currently earmarked for RIS3) consider the need and, if necessary, allocate sites for truck parking at the earliest stage.
  • Maximise using government-owned sites and grant schemes to stimulate site expansion and facilities upgrades.


Kevin Green, Policy Director at business group Logistics UK, said: “The Labour Manifesto rightly puts economic growth at the centre of its ambitions and recognises the importance of industrial strategy and infrastructure delivery, as well as reform to planning, the Apprenticeship Levy and our trading relationship with Europe to achieve that. 

“Labour is right to commit to upgrading the grid to support the electrification of industry. However, it is vital that net zero, infrastructure and fiscal plans are fully aligned. Suppose the end of sale date for new internal combustion engine vans is put back to 2030. In that case, this must be matched by a substantial increase in public and depot charging, and incentives for businesses to afford the investment. The proposed 10-year infrastructure strategy also recognises the need for a long-term focus. However, we would press for an even longer timeframe with 30-year infrastructure strategies implemented and held to account through five-year delivery plans. This would move us away from the current stop-start approach that sees much-needed projects take far too long to move from concept to delivery, holding our economy back.

“With logistics underpinning the whole economy and essential to unleashing growth, Logistics UK is pleased that the Labour Party is committing to work in partnership with businesses. Our sector is entwined with so many aspects of society and business that we would urge for this partnership to be backed by a dedicated minister, with cross-departmental responsibilities. Our members are clear that they need senior representation in the Cabinet to push the UK forwards with a national logistics network, a fair transition to a green economy that recognises that the high cost of doing business is currently inhibiting investment in decarbonisation, skills partnerships and an expanded relationship with Europe to break down trade barriers.

“Logistics is one of the UK’s largest sectors, employing 8% of the workforce and delivering strong potential for social mobility, and we welcome plans to replace the Apprenticeship Levy with a Growth and Skills Levy, align skills provision and migration with an industrial strategy, and empower regional mayors to support skills and growth. However, it is vital to recognise that the UK logistics sector works nationwide, and requires approaches to planning, transport and skills to support that. It is also essential that businesses are fully consulted on the details of employment reforms, to ensure they work in practice.”

Responding to the launch of the Labour Party General Election manifesto, RHA Director of Public Affairs & Policy, Declan Pang, said:

It is positive to see Labour’s commitment to reform the planning system which continues to hamper the vital infrastructure our industry relies on. We welcome the focus on streamlining the process for Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects, such as Lower Thames Crossing, and updating the National Policy Planning Framework, which is vital in ensuring we have the right road network and lorry parking to meet demand. Local Plans play a vital role in the priorities of infrastructure in council areas and we are pleased to see Labour’s commitment to ensure that planning authorities have up-to-date Local Plans in favour of development and we support the commitment to ensure that planning guidance better caters to the needs of businesses as this has a significant bearing on land available for operators to use, as well as other vital infrastructure such as driver facilities.

We welcome Labour’s plan to prioritise dealing with the scourge of potholes on our highway network. However, this must not come at the expense of deferring schemes that are essential for tackling congestion and creating reliable journey times for hauliers and motorists alike, such as the A27the new government’s first jobs bypass. One of  is to review the third Road Investment Strategy and ensure it is robustly funded. Maintaining our road network should not come at the cost of investing in its future.

The commitment to allocate £1.8 billion to upgrade ports and build supply chains across the UK through the National Wealth Fund will also have a major impact on our industry and we look forward to working with Labour on this, should they be successful in forming the next Government.

On taxation, the commitment to retain the full expensing system for capital investment and the annual investment allowance for small business is welcome. Still, we need to see the same commitment for full expensing for leased assets (announced in the Spring Budget 2024). This will significantly support hauliers and van and coach operators, particularly those affected by higher interest rates. With the average profit margin of a haulier just 2%, Labour needs to minimise the financial burden on operators from taxation, particularly given that the cost of distribution impacts the prices on our shelves and the cost of living.

We have long called for reform of the Apprenticeship Levy and are pleased to see Labour have listened to these calls and will create a flexible Growth and Skills Levy. Just 1% of all new HGV licences last year came via an apprenticeship, so it is crucial that this works better for our industry. The pledge to a more joined-up approach to migration and skills policy is also vital to ensure we have the workforce needed, particularly where there are significant and escalating shortages in roles such as heavy vehicle mechanics.

Finally, with the phase-out dates for diesel HGVs fast approaching, Labour’s National Wealth Fund promises to support green investment. However, much work remains to tackle the barriers to decarbonising commercial vehicles and provide the stable and predictable policy framework needed, including a clear and realistic roadmap, financial incentives, and investment in energy infrastructure.

Responding to Labour Party Manifesto, Graham Vidler, CEO at The Confederation of Passenger Transport said

“We welcome Labour’s manifesto commitment to a long-term transport strategy and – as set out in CPT’s own manifesto, Driving Britain Forward – this commitment must be matched with a five-year long-term spending programme, as happens for rail. Nothing less will ensure local authorities and operators can maximise investment in buses, drive a swift and smooth transition to a zero emissions fleet, and deliver what passengers want: more bus services going to more places that are also more reliable and quicker.

“In the short term, the industry needs urgent clarity on the future of the English £2 fare cap which ends on 31 December 2024. It is disappointing that the Labour manifesto is silent on this because passengers could continue to benefit from industry and government working together to keep fares low, particularly if investment is targeted on key passenger groups, such as under 22-year-olds.”

CPT welcomes Labour’s pledge to fund ten-year budgets for R&D institutions. It also looks forward to working with local transport and planning authorities to ensure space for buses and coaches is given clear priority in local growth plans and road network renewal—to curb congestion and help promote these popular public transport options as attractive and sustainable travel choices.


RHA response: Although the Conservative Party manifesto is wide-ranging, many of the policies announced are existing government positions. While direct references to freight are limited, the policies outlined will have a positive impact on our sector, including planning reforms, infrastructure investment and business support.

One of the focuses of the manifesto is infrastructure and the faster delivery of projects. The Conservatives have pledged to reduce the average time to sign off major infrastructure projects from four years to one year in part by ending “frivolous legal challenges” which hold up the delivery of key infrastructure commitments like the A66 Northern Trans-Pennine Project. The manifesto also explicitly outlines the delivery of several road infrastructure projects like the Lower Thames Crossing and the A303. We welcome this commitment.

The manifesto makes a clear offer towards SMEs, promising reform of digital invoicing to tackle late payments and a recommitment to extending full expensing to the cost of leased assets. For employees, the Conservatives also plan to cut National Insurance by a further 2p and remove contributions from the self-employed.

It also continues the party’s push to be on the side of drivers. The manifesto commits to stopping road pricing, reversing the ULEZ expansion, and banning the rollout of Low-Traffic Neighbourhoods and 20-mph zones where they do not receive local consent.

As we approach the phase out dates for diesel commercial vehicles, the Conservative manifesto makes no reference to decarbonising the heavy vehicle sector. This is disappointing as the industry urgently needs clarity, certainty and a clear roadmap to net zero.

The manifesto makes two big pledges relating to skills: National Service for 18-year-olds, which could include an option to work in logistics for a year, and the pledge to increase the number of high skilled apprenticeships in England by 100,000 each year. They do not however pledge to reform the Apprenticeship Levy – RHA have long called for a more flexible skills levy to better suit the training needs of our industry.

Logistics UK response: Kevin Green, Policy Director at business group Logistics UK said, “The Conservative manifesto recognises the importance of transport and other infrastructure investment to support the economy, and our member businesses would welcome measures to tackle congestion, potholes and patchworks of local rules.

“However, to unleash the power of logistics to drive growth across the whole economy, our sector needs agreement and investment in a strategic logistics network and an agreed road map between government and industry to net zero. The manifesto’s commitments on green levies and road pricing are interesting but it is the long-term plans in these areas and in infrastructure improvement that will enable businesses to invest, with confidence.

“Logistics UK is calling for a partnership with the next government, backed by a dedicated minister for logistics and supply chain, to develop and deliver long term plans for logistics, a sector that underpins and holds the key to growth across the whole economy. Without such a bold approach, and reform of planning, the apprenticeship levy reform and our trading relationship with Europe, we will not get the economic growth the country needs.


RHA response: The Liberal Democrat manifesto transport plan focusses almost entirely on people rather than goods. Their freight strategy can be summarised in one bullet point: “a national freight strategy to move as much freight as possible from road to rail, supported by a freight growth target and the electrification of freight routes.”

We believe this is too simple an answer for an increasingly complicated question. 89% of all freight is moved by road and we are a long way off a significant shift to rail without the required infrastructure to make this happen. Even if significant modal shift is achieved, the road freight industry will still need to provide final mile services. Practical proposals rooted in reality must be brought forward. The commitment to investing in green infrastructure is hopefully indication on that measure but more detail is needed.

The commitment to smoother European trade will hopefully benefit operators struggling to maintain business with Europe, but the Commercial Landowner Levy risks significantly increased costs for haulage firms who by necessity operate large footprint premises. The proposed “environmental and human rights duty of care in business” is a significant concern and is an additional regulation on top of an already highly regulated industry that could negatively impact our nation’s supply chain and ability to keep goods moving and the economy growing.