Bus manufacturers call on government for aid

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Bus manufacturers have called on the government to unlock state aid to the sector, in order to secure their future. In a letter joint letter with the CPT, signed by Wrightbus, Optare and Alexander Dennis, the major manufacturers appealed to the government to work with them to help secure the future of UK bus manufacturing and safeguard thousands of jobs. The manufacturers have urged the government to consider ways to bolster the industry, including scrappage schemes and grants.

“Despite welcome government support, most operators will not be able to invest in their fleet until their businesses return to profitability,” said the letter. “This means fleet investment is likely to be cut back heavily in the remainder of 2020 and well into 2021. UK bus manufacturing is a global leader and a technological centre of excellence with a track record of innovation which continues to deliver the products operators need in a highly competitive market. UK bus manufacturing represents more than 10% of the country’s motor industry employment total and bus manufacturers meet more than three quarters of domestic demand, keeping investment in the country. It is one of the UK’s success stories and a vital component in post-Brexit opportunities for Global Britain.

“The entire industry was delighted by the Prime Minister’s pledge to support investment in ultra-low and zero emission buses during this Parliament. However, the COVID-19 crisis represents an immediate threat to the future of the UK bus manufacturing industry and its extensive supply chain. Forward orders have already been drastically reduced with many operators deferring or indeed cancelling their orders for new buses and coaches. Without immediate support, future orders will not be forthcoming, putting over 10,000 jobs and apprenticeship opportunities at risk. It is vital that Government funding is used immediately to enable bus operators to invest in their fleets, and the UK’s manufacturing base, with confidence. We urge you to work with us and bus operators to identify mechanisms such as scrappage schemes, procurement grants and support with financing of leasing arrangements which enable operators to continue to order vehicles at this time of unprecedented uncertainty.”