Thursday, March 8, 2012

Freight and Logistics Groups Join Latest FairFuel UK Protest at Westminster

Rain Doesn't Dampen the Spirits of Campaigners
Shipping News Feature

UK – The latest action by FairFuel UK and the lobby group’s supporters was hailed as a success following a demonstration which saw hundreds turn out in a wet Westminster yesterday to protest against the high price of fuel. The freight and logistics industries showed their support with backing from truckers and industry bodies such as the Freight Transport Association (FTA) and the Road Haulage Association (RHA). The main thrust of the argument yesterday centred around a recent report which concludes that a reduction in fuel duty would stimulate economic recovery by giving users more money for investment. Speaking for the RHA Chief Executive Geoff Dunning said of the gathering:

“The aim of yesterday’s lobby was to make as many MPs as possible aware of the results of the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) report. I think I can quite safely say that we achieved that aim. Of course there is still more to do, but we can go forward with real confidence.

“If road users find they have more money in their pocket, there’s a good chance they will spend it. The knock on effects of that will be increases in productivity, sales and of course, transport movements – all of which will need increased levels of manpower. This is a win-win situation, we are presenting the Chancellor with a solution that helps the man and woman in the street, that helps business productivity and helps boost the economy.”

The CEBR report was commissioned by the FairFuelUK campaign to investigate whether an economic case could be made to support its view that a cut in fuel duty could generate more tax revenues from across the wider economy as a result of increased economic growth and business and consumer confidence. The initial findings of the report, based on Office of National Statistics modelling, were presented to Treasury Minister Chloe Smith at the end of February by the partners of FairFuel UK and James Hookham, FTA’s MD of Policy and Communications, was unstinting in his support for its findings saying:

“This report is proof positive that cutting fuel duty would be a ‘win win’ for business and the Government. A cut in fuel duty of 2.5 pence per litre would save truck operators £300 million a year – a welcome respite from serious commercial pressure – but more than this, it would create 180,000 jobs in the first year in the UK and increase our gross domestic product by 0.3 per cent.

“If the Chancellor went a step further and cut fuel duty by 5ppl it would create a further 30,000 jobs; the short-term hit to Treasury coffers would be relatively small beer in comparison with the stimulus it would provide the economy in the longer term.”

The’ league table’ published in our last article showed how Britain has the highest rate of fuel duty in Europe and in January the FTA’s Guide to Distribution Costs 2011 indicates that the high cost of fuel remains the biggest cause for concern amongst haulage operators. Bruce Goodhart, FTA Research Analyst, said this week:

“The high price of diesel is the number one concern keeping hauliers awake at night. Fuel now represents around 40% of annual operating costs compared to around a third just three years ago. Whilst operating costs have now reached an all-time high, hauliers continue to face pressure from customers not to raise their haulage rates. As a result, balance sheets remain fragile and hauliers vulnerable during this period of weak economic activity.”