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29 Nov 2011

So, today is Autumn Statement day and the fuel duty freeze announced today will no doubt bring some relief to family car drivers and those who drive for a living, particularly those small and medium sized fleet businesses whose survival is hanging in the balance. But is this is too little action far too late? Surely we’re just delaying the inevitable?

The fuel duty hike in January would have cost the fleet industry around £325m, but isn’t this just a burden we’ll still need to carry in nine months time? We’re not certain that our industry can take this hit.

Did you notice that there was no mention of fleets or the transport sector in Mr Osborne’s announcement? Correct me if I’m wrong, but I was under the impression that we are the primary users of the UK’s roads – without us goods wouldn’t be delivered to shops, food wouldn’t reach our tables, vital repairs couldn’t be undertaken and our public transport wouldn’t run. Is this really an industry that Mr Osborne wants to take off of the roads and put out of business?

Although we’re relieved the Chancellor has steered us away from running straight into a brick wall, getting the UK back on the road to recovery requires a more efficient long-term fuel duty strategy. The Fair Fuel Stabiliser didn’t work, so what’s to say that a rise in fuel duty will? It’s worth looking closer at Sir James Mirrlees’ proposed recommendations to replace fuel duty with congestion charges. We think that this proposal could revive the transport industry, reduce city centre traffic and boost the economy by getting Britain moving again rather than unfairly penalising those of us who drive for a living.

Without support it would not just be the transport industry that suffers but every single household in the UK which would see the price of everyday goods rocket. Social networks have been abuzz today with consumers and businesses alike voicing their fear and anger, with one disillusioned tweeter saying: “The Chancellor’s Autumn Statement can basically be summed up as ‘winter’s coming’”. Yes, it is, and a long, hard winter it will be if no changes are made.

We strongly urge the Government to listen to the needs of the transport sector before it’s too late.
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