A leading business organisation has expressed its concern that the Chancellor may look to the logistics sector to refill depleted Government coffers. In its submission to the Pre-Budget Review, the Freight Transport Association (FTA), which represents over 14,000 businesses across the UK, has urged the Treasury to think carefully before setting off down a path of further transport taxes.
Despite the Chancellor's welcome decision in July not to apply an extra two pence per litre on fuel duty, there is now concern that the Treasury is looking for a quick fix to replenish its funds.
Theo de Pencier, FTA chief executive, said:
“To apply an increased tax burden through fuel duty or vehicle excise duty may seem to the Chancellor like a quick fix for the Government's financial problems, but the reality is that those costs will be felt by consumers. Additional transport costs will ultimately be passed on to shoppers who, like everyone, are feeling the effects of the credit crunch.
“At a time when the Government is looking at ways of kick-starting the economy, to add to the transport tax burden would be a retrograde step.”
FTA is also calling on the Chancellor to make an unambiguous commitment to decouple duty applied to diesel for HGVs from that of other road users. Such a move, says FTA, would allow the UK to compete more effectively in European road transport markets and allow companies to invest further in their workforce and fleets.
Mr de Pencier concluded:
“As a former transport secretary, the Chancellor well knows the difference between the essential journeys made by HGVs and those undertaken by other road users. We are not looking for a handout, more an understanding from him, and the Government as a whole, that the logistics industry keeps the UK economy moving, literally and figuratively.”
Recognition by the Government of the sector's importance to UK plc will go a long way to bolster the confidence of an industry which is already feeling the squeeze of the economic downturn.