Thursday 22 October 2020

Trade groups warn against fuel duty hike

Logistics UK, formerly the Freight Transport Association, has responded with concern to suggestions in the media that a significant fuel duty rise may be being planned by the Treasury for the forthcoming autumn budget.

The levy has been frozen for the last ten years, but various national newspapers were suggesting as Transport Operator went to press this month that the drastically increased burden on government spending resulting from the coronavirus crisis has led the government to reconsider this long-standing position.

“Logistics businesses have worked tirelessly during the pandemic to ensure the nation is supplied with all the goods and services it needs, all while operating at very tight margins and facing severe economic difficulties; a fuel duty rise would be a huge blow to their recovery,” said policy director Elizabeth de Jong.

“The 5p per litre rise – as is speculated in the media – would increase operating costs significantly at a time when margins are most stretched and cash flow is a real problem for many businesses; the UK already pays one of the highest fuel duty rates in Europe.

“Logistics UK is calling for a freeze on diesel and petrol fuel duty, in addition to a reduction in fuel duty for cleaner, lower carbon fuels to support the transition to a zero-emission industry.”

FairFuelUK, which is supported by the Road Haulage Association (RHA) as well as Logistics UK, vowed to “fight tooth and nail” against the rumoured plans.

The organisation quoted Robert Halfon MP, who addressed the chancellor Rishi Sunak directly, stating: “Don’t let the taxpayer millions that funded half-price meals in August be partly paid for using an unnecessary hike in fuel duty. Such a needless rise in this levy will impact badly on the cost of living for families, increase inflation, hit businesses and jobs hard. It will even swell costs for our hard pressed public services, including the NHS.”

Howard Cox, founder of the FairFuelUK campaign, urged the Treasury not to “make the world’s highest taxed drivers the fiscal fall guys in a post-pandemic recovery budget”.

“Hiding behind a green driven agenda to hike a regressive tax will be disingenuous and hit low-income drivers hardest,” he remarked.

“Instead, put much more money into people’s pockets. The extra consumer spending to drive up GDP, and all that goes with it, will help the economy recover quickly, the environment long term, and restore confidence in our beleaguered government.”

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