Investment in the UK’s transport and logistics infrastructure is urgently needed to counteract a significant fall in the country’s global competitiveness, according to the Freight Transport Association.
The FTA has just published its Logistics Report 2019, and UK policy director Elizabeth de Jong said: “With profit margins of only two per cent in 2018, logistics companies are very vulnerable to increases in operating, fuel and freight costs. As a low margin activity, we need to see new thinking and innovative solutions to ensure the UK can offer the highly competitive conditions that draw international companies to our shores, while also supporting home-grown businesses.
“Quality of infrastructure is a key priority for any business looking to invest in the UK, but this has been weakening for several years due to underinvestment in the road network, rocketing fuel prices, limited accessibility to all forms of transport, and an overall lack of innovative transport solutions.”
The FTA highlights the fact that the UK has dropped two places to eighth in the World Economic Forum’s 2018 Global Competitiveness Report, while a report by Ernst & Young found that the UK’s transport and logistics infrastructure has become less attractive to investors – falling from an attractiveness score of 80 to 62.
The 2019 Logistics Report, produced by FTA in association with Santander Corporate and Commercial Banking, polled the opinions of more than 500 freight and logistics businesses operating in the UK and internationally.
The FTA survey found that the uncertainties surrounding Brexit are taking their toll on the logistics industry; 61 per cent of respondents say this uncertainty is a barrier to the growth of their businesses internationally. While at the time of survey (January 2019), 37 per cent of respondents had not taken any action to prepare for Brexit, 17 per cent had created a plan for a No Deal Brexit and nine per cent had implemented such a plan.
The survey also found that 15 per cent of their current HGV driver vacancies will not be filled in the near future, due to a nationwide shortage of staff with appropriate skills.
John Simkins, head of transport and logistics at Santander UK, said: “Uncertainty has been the inevitable reality for UK businesses over the last year, especially for those operating in transport and logistics. In order that UK businesses can continue their operations with as little disruption as possible, it is vital that we work closely with the transport & logistics industry.”