By John Simpson 17 November 2011
Automotive bodies across the board have deemed Tuesday’s fuel duty debate an encouraging step towards some relief from suffocating fuel costs for struggling motorists and transport businesses.
The issue of fuel duty – which makes up 60% of prices at the pump – was granted discussion time in the House of Commons after an online petition secured more than 114,000 signatures as well as the support of 116 MPs.
A motion was passed without a vote and Geoff Dunning, Chief Exec of the Road Haulage Association, was impressed with the positive reaction from MPs on such a huge issue.
“Road hauliers in general and the members of the RHA in particular will be encouraged to know that their hard work is recognised by their parliamentary representatives,” he commented.
“The pressures under which hauliers operate was stressed by several MPs; it's good to know that all the hard work is finally paying off.”
Mr Dunning warned against complacency, emphasising that the biggest priority was to ensure that January’s 3ppl increase didn’t happen: “We cannot yet regard the abolition of January's proposed duty increase as a done deal. The fact remains that this will be a short term solution to a problem that must see a long term solution.
“There is still a long way to go but we are delighted that the debate has shown that the voice speaking in our favour is louder than ever before.”
The time has come
Edmund King, AA President, believes that motorists should be “given a break from the annual cycle of fuel duty increases”.
“We were disappointed that the January fuel duty rise went ahead at a time of rising oil prices and higher VAT,” he wrote in his letter to Chancellor George Osborne, published on the AA website.
“The private car is, for most people, a necessity not a luxury. It is their means to a job, health care, doing the shopping, visiting relatives and friends and also for improving the quality of their lives.
“Motorists do not understand the logic of high fuel duty rises which further increase RPI and force demand down at a difficult time for family and business budgets which need mobility to stay afloat.”
Mr King acknowledged the importance of balancing the books but added that the time had come for lower pump prices.
Theo de Pencier, CEO of the Freight Transport Association, was pleased with how Tory MP Caroline Nokes’ focused on the struggle of transport businesses during the three and a hour debate.
“Thanks to tremendous support for our campaign from industry, MPs and the public, the Government has now heard first hand how high levels of fuel tax have not just hurt an industry beset by redundancies and insolvencies, but actually reduced the amount of revenue taken by the Treasury,” commented Theo.
“Clearly, the instinct to raise taxes to fill a massive budget deficit heaps more cost pressure on business and stymies economic growth and must be suppressed.
“We have achieved a new level of engagement with MPs on this issue, but Government needs to act now to kickstart our economy; scrapping the fuel duty rises planned for 2012 would be an excellent start.”
Subsequent comments from Vince Cable suggest that freezing fuel duty will be easier said than done and a response from the Government was far from supportive.
“Abandoning the Government’s plan could lead to rising interest rates and falling international confidence, which would undermine the recovery,” read the letter on FairFuelUK.com.
Should 2012’s fuel duty rises still go ahead, some motorists can - to an extent - take matters into their own hands.
“Don’t wait for the Chancellor to reduce the cost of driving, do it yourself,” advised Peter Rodger, Chief Examiner for the Institute of Advanced Motorists.
“The way you drive has a big impact on the amount of fuel you use. If you slow down and leave more of a gap between you and other vehicles, you won’t need to accelerate and brake so much. That’s two easy ways to improve your miles per gallon by up to 15%.”
Categories: Fleet news
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