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Are UK and European hauliers on a level playing field?

So, this week we were finally treated to some good news. The new transport secretary, Patrick McLoughlin, announced foreign lorry drivers will be charged to use UK roads – a measure we’ve been calling for since the Chancellor’s last budget.

And it’s only fair since us British hauliers are charged for using European roads!

All good then? Well, no.

McLoughlin says this will create a “level playing field” between UK and European hauliers and yes, it’s a great start, but it’s certainly not level. The fact of the matter is we still have no competitive advantage over truckers from Europe who are paying far less in tax and fuel duty meaning their overheads, and therefore their prices, will always be lower.

Naturally this results in a substantial loss of business at a time when our industry, and the economy, needs it most.

As it stands, the proposed charge for foreign lorry drivers to use UK roads will be £1,000 per year– this is simply not enough to achieve equality. Not when the UK Government levies the highest fuel duty in the European Union – it makes up over 60 percent of the price!

In fact, UK fuel duty on diesel needs to fall by 24 pence per litre to achieve parity with the average duty rate in the rest of the European Union, so how are we meant to compete?

And until that happens, the transport industry will remain the Government’s cash cow. So thanks for the effort McLoughlin, but you’ve got some way to go yet!

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