The Freight Transport Association (FTA) has called upon Chancellor George Osborne to reduce road fuel duty in his 2013 Budget by up to three pence per litre, in a bid to ease the pressure on UK freight operators over the next 12 months. Following a particularly difficult business environment in 2012, the FTA believes reductions in Osborne's Budget plan are critical to the growth of the UK's freight transport sector. The FTA has outlined pre-Budget recommendations to the Chancellor which they hope would stimulate sector growth. The priorities would be to:
- Ease cost pressure on domestic freight activity and stimulate economic growth through consumer demand by reducing road fuel duty by three pence per litre, with proportionate reductions in the duty rate for gas oil.
- Encourage investment in low-carbon fuelled vehicles with the fixing of fuel duty rates for natural gas and biomethane relative to diesel rates for at least a decade.
- Ensure that the introduction of the HGV Road User Levy is 'tax neutral' in practice by maintaining: the rates of the levy that will apply; that Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) rates will not be subject to increase to control that neutrality; and that holders of Reduced Pollution Certificates (RPCs) will be adequately compensated by like-for-like grants.
In December last year the FTA welcomed the Chancellor's decision to abort plans to implement a three pence increase for fuel duty in January, but expressed concern that the decision did not go further and abandon all planned rises prior to the next General Election and even consider a three pence reduction. James Hookham, managing director for policy and communications at the FTA, said: "While we are relieved that the immediate danger has passed, in order to get the UK back on the road to economic recovery it is vital that we have a cut in fuel duty and a long-term strategy to prevent future rises and uncertainty."