Andy Hamilton, CEO of LKQ Euro Car Parts, said: “Today’s Budget has given the independent aftermarket some reasons to be cheerful after a long and tough year. The extension of furlough until September was a welcome surprise. It will give garages time to get back on their feet after restrictions hopefully come to an end in June, avoiding a possible cliff edge event. Importantly, it will allow the garages that will lose volumes of usual MOT work through April to July to cushion the gap and prepare for the new demand curve that we’ve seen through the later months of the year.
“The new small business corporation tax rate, business investment tax relief and funding for digital training all also have the potential to be really promising for the industry’s SMEs.
“Support for apprenticeships and traineeships is also hugely positive and cannot come soon enough. The lasting scars from the pandemic are likely to come in skill shortages as the usual cohort of fresh talent joining the sector every year more or less dried up because of the pandemic, with colleges also struggling to deliver courses. With the aftermarket leaning into some transformational changes over the next few years – from increasing digitisation to the rapid growth of the hybrid and EV parc – it will need all the support it can get to make up lost ground.
“It’s rarely the case that garages need an incentive to take on apprenticeships. The aftermarket is one area of the economy where the practice has been embedded into everyday business for decades. But they do need funding when workloads remain suppressed from their pre-pandemic levels.”