November 26 2008.

The motorcycle industry is calling on government and local authorities to support the industry's ability to provide affordable and practical transport solutions in these difficult and uncertain economic times.

Employing more than 15,000 people and turning over more than £3 billion a year, the UK motorcycle industry is mainly composed of small and medium-sized businesses. Dealers, suppliers and manufacturers are braced for a volatile and challenging 2009.

On the eve of the Carole Nash International Motorcycle and Scooter Show at the NEC, the Motor Cycle Industry Association (MCI) and the Motorcycle Retailers' Association (MRA) welcomed the Pre-Budget decision to cut VAT, but are jointly urging the chancellor to take practical action in support of the industry and personal mobility. The industry is providing cost-effective transport solutions and helping to keep UK plc on the move at an affordable price. In particular, they want to see government ensuring:

• That dealers have access to low-cost finance so that stock levels can be maintained, enabling consumers who decide to switch to two wheels to get on the road as quickly as possible

• That support gets through to the shop floor and the independent dealers who most need help

• That easy and low-cost finance is available to the supply chain so that jobs and services are maintained until the credit crunch eases.

"This isn't just about sustaining business and jobs," said MCI chief executive Steve Kenward. "There's a great opportunity to use the recession positively by supporting the industry at a time when more and more people are turning to two wheels. Motorcycles make social, economic and environmental sense.

"The chancellor's announcement this week of a cut in VAT is helpful, but his give and take on petrol has done nothing to reduce the costs of travel. Train fares will increase by up to 11 per cent in the new year, hitting commuters especially hard. There is an ever-stronger case for government and local authorities to encourage greater use of mopeds, scooters and other practical, multi-use motorcycles as the recession bites deeper."

The powered two-wheeler (PTW) market has held up well this year as people have been taking to mopeds and scooters in particular to cut costs and avoid congestion. PTW registrations last month were 4 per cent up on October last year, and total registrations for the first 10 months of the year were just 1.5 per cent down.

MRA chairman Martin Marshall said: "For businesses, the changes in corporation tax are welcome, but are off-set by the increase in national insurance. The small cut in VAT will make motorcycles, clothing, parts and servicing a little cheaper. While we hope that this will stimulate demand, it is vital that dealers and other businesses have access to low cost finance in order to keep going."

In addition to business support, the motorcycle industry also wants to see government, legislators, local authorities and transport planners viewing motorcycling as a serious and relevant alternative to the use of cars and public transport. PTWs are part of the solution to the problems of congestion and pollution and should not be ignored or treated as an afterthought. The MCI and MRA simply want equality and the incentives that come with the recognition that PTWs ease traffic and parking congestion, reduce emissions and provide people with reliable and efficient personal transport."

The Carole Nash International Motorcycle and Scooter Show is the industry's showcase for all the latest motorcycles, accessories, safety equipment, rider training and services. It runs at the NEC from November 28 to December 7.