Logistics UK, formerly the Freight Transport Association, has accused the government of a vacuum of “policy, advice and action” when it comes to stimulating economic growth.
David Wells, chief executive at the trade association, said that while the rate of growth was encouraging as the country came out of lockdown, the pace of expansion has now “slowed to a crawl”.
He warned that while larger businesses in the logistics sector were “holding steady” SMEs across the sector were “finding things increasingly tough, with less subcontracted work, squeezed rates and fewer jobs of their own to sustain the recovery”.
“This is bad news for the economy, for employees and for the longer-term future prosperity of our nation and does not tally with the expected ‘bounce back’ or ‘recovery’ we have been told is under way,” Wells said.
He added that logistics businesses of all types were finding it “increasingly difficult to remain solvent” as the end of the furlough scheme approached.
“At the same time, faltering growth is delivering little or no uplift in revenues to meet government demands for repayment of deferred taxes and increased staff costs,” he said.
Wells said that the logistics sector needed either a strategy to stimulate demand and generate growth, or a strategy for containing infection, but said that at the moment “we have neither”.
“Because of the risk of a second wave of the pandemic, government might well be apprehensive about opening up the economy further. But if the strategy is to slow or reverse growth in order to stem infections, then urgent action is needed to protect struggling businesses to avoid an avalanche of redundancies and insolvencies.
“Currently, business is caught in the middle without a plan for either strategy, and a vacuum of government policy, advice and action, and that’s the most dangerous place to be.”