Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Road Haulage Group Want Clarity On Fuel Duty Levels Before UK Election

Truck Representatives Join Call For Clear Political Parties Manifesto Pledges
Shipping News Feature

UK – The Road Haulage Association (RHA) are demanding clarification of the main political parties policies for fuel prices should they be elected. As usual the three main candidates have produced much rhetoric without spelling out precisely their intentions as to whether they will take measures to halt the continuing upward price spiral that freight trucking companies and others have been powerless to prevent lately. With a vote due on the 6th May the RHA want to know if the disparity between costs for British hauliers and their European competitors is to be addressed and how.

RHA chief executive Geoff Dunning says:

“The Conservatives’ Fair Fuel Stabiliser is welcome, so far as it goes, indeed, the RHA proposed plan to stabilise fuel prices and the SNP moved a similar amendment in Parliament before the Conservatives came up with their scheme in 2008. But we look to the Tory party to be more open about the level at which it would want to set taxes.

“Labour is pretty clear. Chancellor Alistair Darling has raised duty by almost one penny per month for the past 16 months and has another three inflationary increases in the pipeline over the next year. Hugely unwelcome though these increases have been, it is far from clear that the Conservatives or Liberal Democrats would do anything other than continue to increase duty levels.

“Labour promised to narrow the diesel duty gap a decade ago but has done nothing since abandoning the Lorry Road User Charging Project as unworkable in 2005, after spending almost £40 million in consultancy fees alone. Vague commitments from the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats to bring in an LRUC Mark 2 do not inspire confidence and will at best take years to introduce.

“It is not good enough for the Opposition parties to focus solely on National Insurance contributions. Fuel duty is an important political issue for all road users and a vital one for the road haulage industry. Voters should have a clear idea where the major parties stand. UK diesel duty levels are by far the highest in Europe and result in British hauliers paying £12,000 or more per truck per year than many EU competitors. That gap is damaging our haulage industry, costing UK jobs, putting up costs for British business and increasing prices in the shops.”

Interested observers will review closely what, if anything, each of the parties proposes on the matter. Even at this late stage the cost of fuel, and the knock on effect it has on the price of shipping goods around the country, is a political hot potato which none seems eager to comment on meaningfully. Government revenues from the sale of fuel are now so vast, with duty applied and then subjected to VAT on top, that cynical industry analysts have stated that each of the major parties are reluctant to be too precise as to what the future might hold for a key revenue stream.