The government must heed the advice of its own MPs and overhaul its fuel duty policy to avoid doing further damage to the industry and the economy, warns the Freight Transport Association (FTA).
During yesterday’s four-hour debate in the House of Commons, Chloe Smith, the Economic Under Secretary to the Treasury, heard how high fuel prices have damaged businesses and communities, restricted economic growth, hurt motorists and stoked inflation and unemployment across the country.
MPs told how hauliers and businesses in their constituencies have suffered at the hands of the highest rates of fuel duty in the EU and struggled to remain competitive and solvent, citing evidence from the FTA and other organisations.
One such MP who spoke during this particularly busy backbench session was Conservative MP Caroline Nokes (Romsey and Southampton North) who said: ‘I met this morning with the Freight Transport Association who tell me that this (fuel price rise) has had a crippling effect on the logistics industry, whose business viability is determined by the price of fuel and for whom even the smallest rise makes a massive difference.’
Calls for substantive measures, including scrapping the fuel duty rises planned for 2012 and introducing a fuel duty stabiliser, were made from either side of the House and at the end of the debate the ‘ayes’ had it in a unanimous show of approval for the motion.
While Ms Smith said she had listened, FTA will be working hard with its partners in the Fair Fuel Campaign to turn warm words into government action ahead of the Chancellor’s autumn statement expected at the end of November.
Theo de Pencier, FTA’s CEO, said: “The enthusiastic political support for our motion reflects emotions felt by businesses and motorists around the country with the high cost of filling a fuel tank a truly national concern and one that is inextricably linked to our economy’s health.
“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.
“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.”