As another new UK cabinet takes shape following some turbulent times in government, the Independent Garage Association (IGA) has called for awareness of the independent automotive marketplace.
The organisation has written to the new Secretary of State for Transport, Mark Harper, to highlight the importance of the independent garage sector to the UK’s economy and the current issues facing the industry.
In the letter, Stuart James, IGA Chief Executive comments: “Independent garages carry out over 70% of the UK’s service and maintenance work, sitting at the heart of communities and quietly providing key services that keep the UK’s vehicles roadworthy and roads safe. The automotive landscape is rapidly changing, and small garage businesses are facing a number of unique challenges which require the Government’s support to ensure that they can afford to remain open, adapt and thrive.
“We have briefed the Secretary on issues currently affecting independent garages, including the rising cost of energy, the right for independent garages to access vehicle technical information so that consumers can choose where to take their car for servicing and repairs, and lack of apprentices and skilled people entering the sector.
“We look forward to continuing our strong relationship with the Department for Transport and representing the interests of the UK’s 35,000 independent garage businesses.”
Some positivity for the independent garage sector
The independent garage sector has had some opportunity to look on the positives in recent weeks, with the recommendation by the Competitions and Markets Authority (CMA) of a new Motor Vehicle Block Exemption Order (MVBEO) which will do more to protect the aftermarket, following the expiration of the current retained Motor Vehicle Block Exemption Regulation (MVBER) next year.
Speaking when the announcement by the CMA was made, James stated: “We are pleased that the CMA understands there are issues with the existing MVBER which need to be addressed for a new UK MVBEO, including access to technical and in-vehicle information.
“The consultation outcome report recognises that the independent sector is vitally important for allowing consumers the choice of who maintains and repairs their vehicles at a competitive price. It also draws attention to the difficulty that independents currently have accessing the technical and vehicle data they need to repair and maintain vehicles, and that without it, consumers will ultimately be detrimented due to higher prices for repair and maintenance services, a reduction in choice of repair outlets and potential safety problems.”