Industry welcomes fuel duty freeze in the chancellor's Autumn Statement

FairfuelUK has welcomed chancellor George Osborne’s commitment to freeze fuel duty in today’s Autumn Statement, but its co-founder said he was disappointed that the government had chosen not to answer calls for a 3ppl duty cut to help hauliers.

FairFuelUK's Howard Cox told Commercialmotor.com that the outcome was a “six out of 10” result for the campaign group.

“We are disappointed that the chancellor didn’t call for an oil pricing enquiry,” added Cox. “We are still going on the offensive and going for a cut along with our backers [which including the Road Haulage Association (RHA), Freight Transport Association (FTA), RAC, the Association of Pallet Networks and UKLPG].”

RHA chief executive Richard Burnett said: “Another freeze will, for many, be seen as little more than a delaying tactic. UK hauliers have to watch every penny; they can’t afford not to. This is an industry where any increase in the price of fuel or the rate of fuel duty has to be passed on to the customer - ultimately increasing prices for business and consumers alike.”

Burnett added that duty now accounted for almost 70% of the price of fuel, which remains a significant impact on hauliers’ costs.

“A 3ppl duty [cut] would have gone some way to levelling the playing field between the UK and the rest of Europe and would have represented a 3-4% reduction in costs to the haulier, enabling them to be more competitive,” added Burnett.

FTA director of policy Karen Dee said: “Falling global oil prices have delivered significant reductions in fuel prices recently.  While this has provided some welcome relief to operators struggling to keep goods moving in the busy Christmas period, it has also put prices close to the point at which fuel duty increases would be triggered.  The chancellor should be congratulated for resisting the temptation to raise some additional revenue at the expense of the freight industry and other roads users.”

The government also revealed that it would press on with plans to install motorway signage which displays the price of fuel at service stations. Five stations on the Bristol to Exeter stretch of the M5 have so far signed up to participate in a trial, which will begin by the end of 2015.

Transport minister Robert Goodwill said: “Today’s announcement will ensure people can see the cheapest places to fill up, encouraging greater competition between service stations.”