The RHA will be taking part in the presentation of a petition to 10 Downing Street on 2 March and I hope that you have signed up to the FairFuel UK campaign, which is also supported by the FTA and a number of other organisations.
In addition to the petition, we have been working with these organisations to increase pressure on the Chancellor to cancel the planned 1 April duty increase announced last year, which is subject to confirmation in the March Budget Statement.
This increase is not 1p – as has been regularly and mistakenly reported in the press – but is planned to be Retail Price Index (RPI) linked, plus 1p. We all know that this measure of inflation has been rising steadily and reached 5.1% on 15 February. Duty is currently 58.95 pence per litre, so a 5.1% inflationary increase will be 3p – plus the 1p extra, making a total of 4 pence per litre! Needless to say, if inflation carries on rising, as many forecasters expect, the hike in fuel duty will be even more.
RHA action has included a massive amount of media coverage, with large numbers of RHA members and staff being interviewed by the press, ranging from national TV stations to local newspapers. To every single one of you who has got involved in this work, please accept my gratitude. Your help is a great example of cooperation.
Now is also the time for members to contact their MPs, telling them how important it is that fuel duty does not rise by any more. I am often told that members have been in touch with MPs who know little about our industry: that is all the more reason for you to write, setting out how many voters are involved in your firm and how important your business is to the economy in their constituency.
The Chancellor will make his Budget statement on 23 March and we hope it will be good news. We know that the government is in a very difficult position and it has to mend the nation’s finances. We are equally sure that massive increases to the price of fuel when the economy is so fragile puts at risk the economic recovery that the UK so badly needs and threatens growth in the private sector which will pay the taxes required to balance the books.
It is not too late to help prevent yet more increases in fuel duty – especially critical at a time when diesel is already at record prices because of high crude oil prices caused by pressures in the global markets and by the sterling/dollar exchange rate.
The RHA wrote to the Chancellor before Christmas asking him to reconsider the increase. A great deal has happened since to persuade him to change his mind. I hope he does.