Parcel and Postal Technology International

Logistics businesses have faced challenge after challenge in recent years, with many still grappling with lingering effects from the pandemic, Brexit and geopolitical tensions. With just a week to go until the UK public go to the polls for the general election on July 4, the logistics industry is closely monitoring for updates on key policies pledged by UK political parties that could significantly impact supply chains and overall operations.

Unlike sectors that frequently grab headlines with controversies and crises, the logistics industry typically operates smoothly in the background. For most voters, their only interaction with logistics may be choosing same-day or nominated-day delivery options on Amazon.

Political parties must not overlook crucial logistics-related policies

However, logistics is fundamental to the functioning of society. From delivering essential goods like food and medicine to facilitating transportation for work and leisure, logistics is crucial for ensuring the smooth supply of products and goods to UK consumers. Despite its importance, it can often slide down the political agenda.

With this in mind, all political parties must be conscious of not overlooking crucial logistics-related policies in favor of more headline-grabbing issues. In an ideal world, the next UK government will provide leadership on how the industry can support the drive to meet the country’s climate obligations, improve trade processes and raise employment standards. So, what policy changes are the logistics and transportation sectors advocating for in the run-up to the general election?

Infrastructure investment and the shift to green logistics

The transportation and logistics sector offers huge potential for significant improvements to environmental protection, staff wages and worker welfare. This sector is a major contributor to the UK’s carbon emissions, particularly through road freight, sea freight and air freight, which collectively have a heavy environmental footprint. A strategic shift toward green logistics would not only help the industry reduce its carbon impact but also diminish noise and air pollution.

Politicians should prioritize policies that encourage the adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) and other zero-emission vehicle technologies. Incentives for the development and use of EVs, such as tax breaks, subsidies and investment in EV infrastructure, could help move the needle in this sector. The Labour Party manifesto outlines its support for the transition to EVs with plans to accelerate the rollout of charge points. The Liberal Democrats echo similar pledges, stating their plans to install charging stations and reintroduce the plug-in car grant in a bid to improve green transportation infrastructure.

To give the logistics industry a much-needed boost, all political parties must prioritize investment in infrastructure across the board. Both the Conservative and Labour parties mention infrastructure investment in their manifestos, with the Conservatives pledging to boost rail connectivity in the North and the Midlands, while Labour aims to modernize road networks and grow the use of rail freight. However, neither of the two main parties commit to high-speed rail. This lack of commitment restricts potential advancements in the UK’s logistics and transportation sectors, which heavily rely on efficient and modern infrastructure.

Elevating worker welfare

Logistics firms are struggling with persistent skills shortages, and addressing this gap is critical for UK businesses. Ahead of the general election, many companies hope to see politicians flying the flag for policies that focus on training the logistics workforce, particularly to create more HGV drivers and engineers. Targeted funding for apprenticeships would help encourage skills development, while also providing a steady stream of qualified professionals to meet rising industry demand.

However, a common theme across all parties is the expectation of reduced immigration, which could accentuate staff and skills shortages across the logistics industry. With fewer workers available from abroad, politicians must provide the proper groundwork to develop domestic talent. Policies aimed at workforce training, such as vocational programs, can help mitigate the effects of these shortages and build a more skilled workforce.

Improving working conditions within the industry is also essential to attract and retain employees. Logistics work is often unattractive for many workers due to shifts, manual labor, wage rates and uncertain contractual conditions. Government policy should focus on improving wages, providing more stable contracts and ensuring better working environments in warehouse and delivery operations. The next government must ensure the UK logistics sector can maintain a robust workforce or could risk a slowdown in operational efficiency.

Futureproofing the logistics industry

The transportation and logistics sector is keen to see politicians champion investment in new technologies, such as warehouse automation and robotics, which are essential for maintaining the UK’s competitive edge in the European market. Embracing these advancements will drive productivity improvements and streamline operations within the industry.

The logistics sector stands ready for the next government to drive real change in sustainability, boost employee welfare and create huge improvements to the UK’s infrastructure. As we near election day, the industry will be paying close attention to the parties’ manifesto promises and the expected ripple effect on the sector.

Bob Gill

Associate Partner

[email protected]

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