For the last week or so I’ve been contacting different parties on the scrappage debate – the Fors and the Againsts – asking for pieces on why they think the scheme should be extended.
We’ve been vehement supporters of the scrappage scheme since the outset and were about to ramp up the pressure on battling for an extension.
We know the scheme doesn’t please everyone – used car traders in particular – so decided a For and Against debate piece in the mag was the best way forward.
We’d already lined up SMMT chief executive Paul Everitt in the For camp, a number of car manufacturer MDs had also scribbled a few pointers in this thumbs up category too.
In the ‘ney’ corner we had Motorpoint boss David Shelton and used car dealer Barrie Crampton who’d both penned pieces saying why scrappage should be, er, scrapped.
And the deadlines for those pieces? Well that would be today… the very day Lord Mandelson announces an extension to the scheme. Great. Thanks a lot.
RIPPING UP THE ISSUE
I’m jesting of course – I’d have ripped up the plan for the whole year, let alone this issue, in the blink of an eye if it had meant more cash in the scrappage pot.
Like it or not, the scheme has had a huge effect on the car industry, taking us from 15 months of declining car sales to postive signs of recovery in the last two.
Take a closer look at those figures and you’ll see just how fragile the market is – remove scrappage sales and new car registrations would still be in the minus territory, by quite some margin.
Extending the scheme with another £100m was absolutely the right thing to do. It means the hundreds of thousands of people the UK car industry supports can breathe a sigh of relief as their jobs are safe for a little while longer.
I wouldn’t be surprised if this isn’t the last wad of cash the government throws into the pot either – they’d be mad to end a scheme that effectively makes them money from the VAT returns.
What’s more, with an election looming, pulling the plug would only extend those dole queues even further around the block and kill off any slim chance Gordon Brown had of clinging on to the keys of Number 10 completely.
So, thanks Mandy for ruining my issue – the scrappage extension of £100m takes away the pain. Just.
Now better go and tell those contributors to rewrite their piece into ‘Why it was right to extend the scrappage scheme’ instead…