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David Wells CEO, Logistics UK

A manifesto for growth

As the UK General Election draws near, Logistics UK’s David Wells is urging all political parties to unleash the power of the logistics industry to help drive growth across the whole economy.

After media speculation, we now know that a General Election will take place during 2024. And while the actual date on which it will take place is still to be confirmed, focus has turned to the policies of all the key parties and how they propose to win over voters. As one of the UK’s biggest business groups, Logistics UK is urging all political parties to unleash the power of the logistics industry to drive growth across the whole economy.

I believe it is vital that logistics is at the heart of all future economic planning, whichever party ends up forming the next government, and we have recently launched a manifesto to summarise the asks of our members from across the industry to provide proposals which we hope the major parties will take on board and use in their own policy asks.

We all know that our sector is key to all areas of economic activity in the UK, from retail and leisure to manufacturing, healthcare and education. Our businesses contribute more than £160 billion pa to the UK’s economy and, as such, are key to the future success of UK plc. Traditionally, logistics has been viewed by government as an element of transport alone, but we all know that the work of our industry, and the decisions that affect it, can be impacted by economic, urban planning, employment and trade policy decisions, to name a few.

Logistics as a sector is the workhorse at the heart of all economic activity in the UK – without an effective supply chain, Britain’s industry cannot flourish and achieve its full potential. At Logistics UK, we represent the interests of businesses from across the logistics sector, as well as those who buy the services of companies across the sector, including freight forwarders and shippers. We believe it is vital that, to protect and build a resilient supply chain that fulfils the needs of businesses at home and abroad, the interests of our sector need to be considered at every level of government. Whether debating issues over education, planning, trade or the environment, logistics has a role to play and the voice of our sector should be heard as part of the debate. We have drawn together the key asks of our industry into a comprehensive manifesto, endorsed by senior leaders from across the sector, which outlines the policy areas which our members see as a priority.

Unleashing the power of logistics to drive growth across the whole economy has been distributed to all political parties ahead of the General Election, with the request that its policy proposals be built into the individual parties’ manifestos as national campaigning begins, to ensure that the concerns of the sector can be addressed.

Top of the list of our asks is the appointment of a dedicated logistics minister to ensure that the needs of our sector are taken into account when decisions are being made. This would ensure that logistics is at the heart of decisions made that could affect future economic growth, rather than considered as an “also ran” after key policies have been shaped.

Our members want and should be involved in discussions that affect future economic growth – we know that logistics can drive economic growth if involved in projects from their inception. Our members believe that the UK needs a public-private partnership to unlock potential investment and enable our industry to maximise the benefits it can deliver to all areas of the economy. Our industry currently employs 2.7 million people in logistics roles, and by partnering with the sector, policymakers can boost economic growth and jobs in every part of the country, supercharging the UK’s GDP by up to £7.9 billion per year by 2030 through increased productivity, according to research by Oxford Economics. Businesses need a consistent pipeline of talent to futureproof the logistics industry and ensure it continues to thrive.

Our manifesto asks for skills partnerships and reforms to funding models to protect this source of talent, with continued support for the successful Generation Logistics campaign that focuses on raising awareness of the opportunities the sector offers. In its first year, the campaign brought logistics to the attention of millions of young people who had never previously considered a career in the sector, and this work is being expanded to encompass educators in the campaign’s second year.

The nation’s infrastructure is in need of innovative, integrated solutions, backed by investment in a national logistics network with improved maintenance and increased capacity to ease delays. And while welcoming the opportunities which a new, greener economy will provide for businesses, it is important that logistics is not hampered in its transition to new technologies by a lack of availability for technology, or prohibitive costs. The industry needs an agreed roadmap to net zero, depending on the availability of equipment, infrastructure investment, regulatory reform and tax incentives.

We are all aware that trade is a driver of innovation and productivity, but to maximise the impact of the work of our sector, it is imperative that border friction is minimised through new and expanded trading relationships with Europe and the rest of the world.

And while inflation remains high, it will remain vital for our industry to keep costs down and stable, to enable investment in green technologies – a particular concern when considering that logistics businesses operate on particularly narrow margins. At Logistics UK, we continue to press for a dynamic mechanism for Fuel Duty to be introduced, with tax incentives for the use and production of alternative low carbon fuels, to keep business costs down and ensure that the sector can invest effectively in a green future.

Logistics needs and deserves a dedicated voice at the heart of government to ensure that the needs of our industry are heard and acted upon. Doing so will help our sector to do its part in improving the country’s productivity and driving up growth for all.

To find out more about the asks of the logistics sector, the full Logistics UK 2024 Manifesto can be found here 

  • Rail
  • Road
  • Maritime
  • Air
  • Supply Chain