IMI analyses automotive plans in General Election manifestos

With the General Election fast approaching, the Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI) has published its guide to what each party is saying when it comes to the automotive sector.

Each of the party manifestos have been analysed by Hayley Pells, Policy and Public Affairs Lead at the IMI, to produce The General Election Guide 2024. This new advice is available on the body’s website to provide a helpful guide to how the parties propose to address the big issues affecting automotive. Amongst these areas are education, skills, consumer trust and confidence, and future technology.

“Clearly the devil is in the detail, however the IMI is encouraged to see that almost every party recognises the significance of building skills with policies to address the current challenges around further education and apprenticeships, as well as maintaining a focus on achieving net zero,” commented Pells. 

“We believe there is a clear opportunity for the next Government to learn from the past and provide the support and infrastructure that will ensure UK automotive remains a global leader, as well as give UK motorists and businesses confidence. The IMI has worked hard to engage with all political parties over the last few years to ensure there is a good understanding of what is needed to keep UK motorists and road users safe. The knowledge and expertise has been provided and we very much hope the next Government will place the right emphasis on automotive.”

General Election pledges

Each of the major UK parties have a raft of promises within their manifestos, all outlining their plans should they be the ones to form the next government. Each also recognises the importance of the automotive industry, as they set out their stall for the General Election.

The key takeaways from each party manifesto, as analysed by the IMI and in alphabetical order, are:

Conservative Party 

Continued backing of the UK automotive industry is a clear commitment as well as a focus on skills in this General Election, with the promise of 100,000 more apprenticeships in England; Lifelong Learning Entitlement and expanded Adult Skills programmes as well as incentives to attract new teachers for STEM subjects. The Conservative Party has also maintained its promise to deliver the zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) mandate with phasing out of both internal-combustion engine vehicles and hybrids by 2035, and supporting the Automated Vehicles Bill.

Green Party 

Underpinned by the belief that the UK’s current climate targets do not reflect the urgency of the climate crisis, and acknowledging that it won’t be the party of Government, the Green Party has committed to push the party in power to transition to a zero-carbon society as soon as possible, and more than a decade ahead of 2050. It has identified the reduction of private vehicle transport as a key issue. It has also proposed a £12.4 billion investment in skills and training for workers to be equipped for the green economy.

Labour Party

With a plan to allocate £1.5 billion to new gigafactories, the Labour Party manifesto includes support for the transition to electric vehicles by accelerating the roll out of charge points as well as restoring the phase-out date of 2030 for new cars with internal combustion engines. Recognising the significance of skills, the Labour Party proposes a Youth Guarantee to provide access to training for all 18- to 21-year-olds as well as reforming the apprenticeships model.

Liberal Democrat Party

The Liberal Democrats’ General Election pledges propose creating an Industrial Strategy focused on future skills as well as replacing the Apprenticeship Levy and reviewing Further Education funding. The party also proposes an increased investment in green infrastructure including renewable energy and zero-carbon transport, making it cheaper and easier for motorists to switch to electric as well as providing skills training, incentives and advice to help families and businesses with the transition to net zero.

Plaid Cymru

Whilst not specifically focusing on the automotive sector, Plaid Cymru’s manifesto includes the commitment to place vocational education on the same foundations as academic learning in school and university. It is also proposing to create a Lifetime Learning Allowance and advocating for an Apprenticeship Living Wage. 

Reform UK Party

Whilst the Reform UK party has proposed a contract rather than a manifesto ahead of the General Election, it includes a focus on benefit support and training for 16-34 year olds. 

Scottish National Party (SNP)

There is no specific focus on automotive in the SNP General Election manifesto although the party does propose several initiatives to encourage EV adoption, including removing VAT from on-street EV charging and an EV car-lease fund for low income households. There is also no reference to any adjustments to the apprenticeship model.   

The IMI has also published its ‘Wish List’ for the next Government which addresses each of the critical issues around automotive vacancy rates, skills, education, and new technologies in automotive. 

The UK automotive sector currently employs over 800,000 people, according to the latest SMMT data, making it a key market in the General Election. The market turned over £78 billion in 2022, and accounts for 10% of the country’s global trade, which brings in around £32 billion each year. 

The IMI’s General Election rundown comes as prominent motor industry figures have highlighted their requirements of the next government, with Kevan Wooden of LKQ UK & Ireland, and Steve Horne of GSF Car Parts, amongst those with suggestions over what need prioritising following the formation of parliament.

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