Treasury coffers missed out on £215 million of revenue last year, thanks to a ‘bring your own fuel’ policy for overseas trucks. The multi-million pound black hole, which is revealed in the Department for Transport’s own figures, published this week, has strengthened calls from the leading transport trade association FTA to make overseas vehicles pay their way on the UK’s roads.
Simon Chapman, FTA’s Chief Economist said:
"Instead of squabbling over who would make the deepest cuts, politicians should be looking at where they can recoup relatively easy money. A system to limit the amount of fuel able to be brought in from across the channel would bring in almost enough cash to build a brand new hospital every year, yet none of the political parties seems to have the appetite to tackle this issue."
While the majority of politicians seem to find a consensus on increases in fuel duty, British businesses are in jeopardy because foreign competitors are able to undercut them. With further duty increases planned for October and next January, this trend is likely to continue.
"Each of the parties talks about fairness: here is an opportunity to extend that fairness to British businesses and to shore up Treasury coffers. A quantity limit on the amount of fuel carried in the running tanks of trucks as they come into the country, paired with a time-based charge, or vignette, on foreign trucks while they are in the UK there would not only be a revenue stream but the authorities would also be better aware of which companies are operating on UK soil."
Better intelligence and awareness brought about through the introduction of a vignette could also help make the UK’s roads safer. The Vehicle & Operator Services Agency (VOSA) has already clamped down on many overseas operators who skimp on compliance with vital safety measures, including drivers’ hours and safe loading. Knowing who is on UK soil would assist them in targeting offenders and help keep other road users safe.