Government urged to save roadside recovery industry as businesses on brink of collapse

The industry has warned Britain’s roads could become littered with broken down and abandoned vehicles and that family businesses are in danger of going bust.

As well as providing breakdown services for motorists, operators are often under contract to remove vehicles that are causing an obstruction or have been confiscated. The industry claims that the police and highways authorities are taking an “ever greater slice” of the statutory fees paid by the vehicle owners.

Steve Smith, president of the Association of Vehicle Recovery Operators, warned this has led to a “perfect storm” for the industry.

Sixty businesses have written to the Government urging it to take action before businesses collapse.

They state: “We have ended up in an unfair and frankly unjust situation whereby recovery operators receive less for a job now than in 2008. Many of us and our families have worked in the recovery business for decades and are now more than ever, very concerned for the future economic viability of our industry.

“Unless statutory fees effectively reflect the growing costs associated with roadside recovery there is a real danger that businesses will collapse without urgent Government intervention to support the industry.”

They claim that operators can receive as little as £81 of the full statutory charge of £150 when removing vehicles.

Operators are glad that fee levels are being reviewed but want assurances any increase will not be absorbed by the police and highways authorities.

Sir Mike Penning, a former policing minister who now chairs the all-party group on roadside rescue and recovery, said: “I am increasingly concerned about this whole situation as I have heard first-hand from members of the industry that current statutory fee levels and practices are having a detrimental impact on their businesses. [Ensuring] that statutory fees are increased and distributed fairly and evenly is of the upmost importance, as the UK rescue and recovery industry is at the heart of ensuring the safety of drivers on British roads.

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