The government is promising to focus on logistics in the next stage of its growth reviews, which were launched at the budget with the Plan for Growth. I know it sounds all too reminiscent of the old chestnut about the most terrifying words in the English language being “I’m from the government and I’m here to help”. But there are good reasons to take it very seriously.
The growth reviews aim to examine the conditions for logistics sector success, addressing the barriers to growth of the industry and putting private sector growth first when making decisions on tax, regulation and spending.
It will cover rail, road, shipping and air freight interests and cut across the wholesale industry. The government says it wants to work with the major trade bodies in the sector including the FTA, RHA, Rail Freight Group, CILT and SMMT, to ensure that policy outcomes are as relevant as possible.
Launching the initiative, business secretary Vince Cable said: “We are launching the second stage of the plan for growth with one central purpose – creating the right conditions for business to start up, invest, grow and create jobs.”
Of course, logistics is just one of the elements in the plan. Other sectors include: infrastructure, education and skills, mid-sized businesses, rural economy and open data.
But it would be a mistake not to take full advantange of this offer. Getting governments to focus on logistics is no easy task. Politicians naturally gravitate towards issues that they think will win them votes – and there are few votes in logistics.
Indeed, it is all too easy for a politician to court public approval by campaigning against logistics developments – witness the high profile campaigns against the development of warehouse sites along the M4.
So it is a significant moment when ministers come looking for input from the industry. And a bit more understanding and support in the corridors of power could make a real difference to the industry.
All in all, this is an opportunity not to be missed.