Alistair Darling has just finished prattling on with the budget as I write this, but he’s already confirmed that British car buyers will receive £2000 if they trade in a car aged 10 years or over for a new vehicle. It makes sense to us – which is why Autocar has been one of several magazines lobbying ministers for the deal.

Except, of course, that it’s not really two grand from the government. Instead, Gordon and his chums are only stumping up £1000; a similar amount will have to be contributed by the manufacturers themselves. Darling didn’t mention this during his budget speech; I guess it must have slipped his mind.

Anyway, why should we care about this? Because a) it makes this package a much poorer deal for the troubled car industry (it’s meant to help the manufacturers, after all), b) it narrows the choice to those car makers who want to participate and c) it could encourage dealers to take a tougher stance on buyers who want to haggle when buying new motors.

After all, if there are conditions at the manufacturers’ end, then their reps could well be forced into playing hardball when it comes to sales negotiations. To the tune of about, oh, £1000, I’d say.

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