News & Analysis

Engineering experts chime in on UK general election

25th June 2024
Caitlin Gittins

As the UK general election draws closer on the 4th July and the fate of the next government hangs in the balance, a major question being asked by design engineers everywhere is what the next government might mean for the industry.

Businesses manufacturing technologies spanning from electric vehicles to semiconductors and chips are speculating what a government change might mean for them, as well as clearly laying out their priorities. Some are theorising that a change may draw attention to previously overlooked issues or challenges.

The National Engineering Policy Centre (NEPC) is calling on the next government to take a “holistic, long-term approach” to tackling challenges such as climate change and economic growth, by creating policies on which economic growth can be built on. The policy priorities listed by the NEPC include accelerating the development and adoption of green technologies and delivering a National Engineering and Technology Workforce Strategy to equip people with technological skills.

According to Paul Holland, Managing Director for UK/ANZ Fleet at Corpay including UK brand Allstar, “The UK’s motorists, whether they are individual drivers or the managers of fleets with hundreds of vehicles are quite rightly asking: what’s in it for us?”

Holland went on to say that regardless of the purposes of driving, the costs remain “too high.”

“The government can’t wave a magic wand to dramatically bring down mobility costs, but large-scale, holistic changes to the way the UK moves could,” he stated. “Electrification is at the crux of this … If electric vehicles were more widespread then UK drivers would pay less and fuel prices would be less volatile as over half of the UK’s electricity is produced by renewables.”

Holland said the way in which the next government can address lowering costs is by cultivating a secondhand EV market, to bring down the overall cost of ownership, as well as using funds from the sales of internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles and applying them to incentives to encourage an uptake in EVs. “Making EVs less expensive to buy … has been done in the past through subsidies, but there seems to be little appetite in the currently proposed manifestos.” 

Ashley Tate, Managing Director of Allstar Chargepass UK said: “Setting the phasing out of ICE vehicles back to 2035 instead of 2030 might not seem to mean much in the grand scheme of things, but it was a powerful signal to the UK’s drivers and businesses that the entire EV agenda seems to have slowed, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). We need to get it back on track, not just for the environment but for the nation’s businesses.”

Although the current government’s focus is on improving the infrastructure by installing more chargers, Tate said “this isn’t where a new government should be spending its time and money … What’s needed is subsidies to help individuals and businesses to buy EVs.” 

Uncertainty on the future and what the next government will prioritise is acting as a “growth suppressant,” according to Georgina O’Toole, Chief Analyst at TechMarketView. “In the private sector, we have witnessed economic uncertainty translate into caution and a stifled—and more challenging—UK tech market.

“Now, the date of the General Election is a certainty. But who will be in power is not. In Whitehall, the 'pre-election period' will arrive sooner than expected. It will slow the UK public sector tech market down over that period and post-election it will take time for any new policies to be implemented and new procurement activity to pick up.

“Will a new government and a different economic policy change the current direction of travel? In the short term, we will also likely see a slowdown in private sector decision making too."

Featured products

Upcoming Events

View all events
Latest global electronics news
© Copyright 2024 Electronic Specifier