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Independent Garage Association calls for financial support for workshops

The Independent Garage Association (IGA) has written to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Transport Secretary and other Ministers, urging them to put a financial support package in place for garages over the next five years.

The MOT extension put in place last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic has created a flux of work in independent garages. It will take some time for MOT numbers in April, May, June, July and August to improve, and the impact on profits could see workshops unable to invest in staff and equipment – or worse, forced to close as profits dry up.

“While we understand that implementing the six-month MOT extension in March 2020 was necessary to keep people safe throughout the pandemic, it is now causing sharp rises and falls in the demand for MOT tests throughout the year,” states Stuart James, IGA Chief Executive. “Despite the overall number of MOT tests remaining the same, this change has left many garage businesses struggling to survive.”

In the letter, James points to data from the DVSA, showing the number of vehicles due their MOT test in March 2021 decreased by an average of 43% compared to a typical year, and decreased even further to 71% in April 2021. The government’s flexible furlough scheme was a lifeline to countless garages during this time, as it allowed them to remain open at a reduced capacity while retaining their employees. 

However, at present, garages are facing the opposite problem; while demand for MOTs will rise by 16% this September and 29% in October, James states, a vast majority of garages are unable to increase their capacity due to the cost, space and staff that would be required to add additional MOT bays. This means they are losing their market share at this now critical time of the year.

“We believe this will have a detrimental impact on vehicle owners that need to have their cars MOT’d, as well as garage businesses, for at least the next five years,” he continues. “An ongoing financial support package for the sector, such as continued access to the flexible furlough scheme, business rate relief scheme, or access to an alternative grant will provide the level of support that is needed.

“This support is essential to enable garages to stay in business and provide continued employment for their staff. Local, independent garages are vital to the mobility of the UK and it is essential they receive the help they need to ensure that vehicle safety is maintained for all road users.”

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