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“As the dust settles on Philip Hammond’s 2018 Budget announcement, it’s clear that this was a declaration with small businesses firmly in mind.

Perhaps the most promising announcement for independent garage owners was a pledge to cut business rates by up to a third for all small retailers with a rateable value of £51,000 or less. The measure, which is set to remain in place until the next re-evaluation in 2021, is estimated to save up to £8,000 per year for 90% of small businesses.

This tax relief represents a significant opportunity for independent repairers to focus on their own business growth. Indeed, that extra £8,000 would serve workshops well if they invested it in the skills and equipment required to continue servicing the vehicles of tomorrow. Modern vehicles are becoming more complex with sophisticated use of electrics and it is essential that the independent sector has both the skills and equipment required to work safely on these vehicles during repair and servicing work.

Linked to this is, of course, the importance of training and attracting the talent of tomorrow. In his speech, the Chancellor announced that the 10 per-cent fee small businesses must pay when they hire an apprentice has been halved, as part of a £695m package to support apprenticeships.

The pledge opens the door for apprentices to access the right level of funding to ensure the very best training as they become our technicians of the future. It also goes some way in addressing concerns raised by the IMI that the industry needs three million more apprentices by 2020. However, Mr. Hammond did not confirm a fixed date for the change to come into effect, and we would like to see greater clarity for repairers.

Looking at the broader picture, this budget should provide a welcome boost for independent garages. These savings represent very real opportunities for workshops, freeing up funds to invest in new business models and expand service offerings.”

All comments attributed to Martin Gray, CEO of Euro Car Parts.