Blog14th December 2023

Has the Autumn Statement driven mobility momentum?

By Richard Earl, R&D Director at EO Charging  

The Chancellor’s recent Autumn Statement offered some welcome news for the EV (Electric Vehicle) sector. However, it feels like the Government still hasn’t quite released the handbrake on the drive we need to realise the full potential of electric mobility.  

EO is working to create a charging ecosystem that gives fleets the power of energy autonomy. Making this vision a reality requires the government, businesses, customers, and consumers to work together, so it’s always a welcome moment when ministers step forward with changes or incentives that might make a difference.   

We see four reasons for the EV fleet sector to feel more cheerful following the Autumn Statement…none of which have anything to do with freezing alcohol duties!  

01. New investment incentive…for some

To encourage investment, the Chancellor made a tax break for businesses investing in plant and machinery permanent. This means new electric vans, trucks, tractors, and forklifts can be fully expensed against taxable profits, although cars remain excluded from the scheme.  

It is fair to say this will benefit cash-rich businesses with access to capital most. The scheme does not extend to the leasing and rental sectors, so it does not provide the breadth of support it could have for the fleet sector. And it does not help cash-strapped businesses that might be struggling to raise the capital investment to fully electrify their fleets and build the necessary infrastructure.  

After the Government pushed back the ban on new petrol and diesel vehicle sales in September, we had hoped the Chancellor would announce more measures to help counteract this impact by incentivising EV adoption. Sadly, this didn’t materialise in a significant way, so it feels like a missed opportunity.

02. Faster connections…finally

The Government committed to adopting the Winser Review proposals because it recognises substantive action is required to address the lengthy wait to connect to the electricity grid.  

The grid connection process will be reformed to cut waiting times, including freeing up over 100 GW of capacity so that projects can connect sooner. This is very welcome news and will significantly reduce connection delays for major EV infrastructure projects from as much as five years to no more than six months. This is a major bonus to our fleet customers who need a grid upgrade to fulfil their net zero ambitions.  

The Government also published its response to the National Infrastructure Commission’s study on infrastructure planning reform. This proposed a new measure to reduce consent times, designate low carbon infrastructure as a critical national priority, and consultation on amending the National Planning Policy Framework to ensure the rollout of electric vehicle charging infrastructure, including EV charging hubs, is prioritised. 


03. Subsidy support…speeding up sectors

With a general election ahead of us in 2024, there’s little doubt that we’re in for a vocal debate on greener transport policy and the role of electrification over the coming year. There’s a need for both UK charging infrastructure and supply chains to develop more quickly, so we welcome the subsidies outlined by the Chancellor for the automotive and green manufacturing sectors.   

The £2 billion being made available for the automotive sector will support the manufacturing and development of zero-emission vehicles, batteries, and the EV supply chain here in the UK. The Government is also commissioning the National Infrastructure Commission to undertake a study on how connected and autonomous vehicles can deliver growth.

04. Paying out for Homes near Pylons

The Government has proposed and energy discount scheme of around £1,000 per year for households which are close to pylons and energy substations. The scheme aims to appease those who will be impacted by new development for EV charging stations. How the scheme will work exactly is still unclear and there are complexities which need to solve however, we can see that this will help speed up the move to electrifying transportation and hopefully will get more of the public onboard with the shift to electric.  

Bringing together the opportunities of electrification, achieving net zero, and stimulating economic growth under a coherent policy framework is the robust platform we need to give businesses and individuals the power of energy autonomy. Let’s hope this Government, or whatever changes might be in store in 2024, stimulates the momentum we need to accelerate progress.