As I write this, the price of fuel is very close to the all-time high of £1.09 pence per litre plus VAT reached in January 2008. Oil prices have risen in the last two weeks, so it is likely that the price of diesel will have risen further by the time you read this.
The RHA has joined with the FTA in supporting FairFuelUK, a campaign that is intended to press the government to drop plans to increase duty by about three pence per litre in April – the actual increase is one pence plus inflation, whatever that might be at the time – and to introduce some sort of mechanism that brings stability to fuel prices. Some may argue that we are fighting a losing battle, as the government is in severe financial difficulty and needs every penny of tax that it can get, but we do not agree.
Our position is based on the fact that the haulage industry needs to be recognised for the key part it plays in the UK economy and that pushing our costs higher and higher, through both oil price increases and fuel duty rises, simply adds to the problems that the economy faces, making recovery less likely and slower.
We all know that the price of fuel is not the only problem we face. If the diesel price was to drop dramatically, customers would quickly be calling for rates to be reduced – as some contracts do automatically. Some sectors of the haulage industry already face severe competition against the many foreign trucks that travel our roads, who do not pay a penny towards their development and maintenance, and use fuel that is not taxed to anywhere near the same level as that sold in the UK. And we all know there are far too many hauliers who are even now prepared to slash rates in a desperate attempt to keep their wheels moving, and even to keep their business afloat for a bit longer before the inevitable insolvency.
The RHA has never lobbied, and will never campaign, solely on the subject of fuel prices, but this issue is at the top of most people’s agenda now, so we make no apology for trying to persuade the government that an ever-increasing price for diesel will damage the UK. We have been urging politicians and officials to respond and wrote to the Chancellor of the Exchequer before Christmas drawing this issue to his attention and looking for action.
What can you do? Please go to website: http://www.fairfueluk.com and sign the online petition. Please ask all your friends, family and business contacts to do the same. Also, please get in touch with your MPs and tell them just how much damage the high price of fuel will do to your business and to the economy. Together, the RHA and its members have a very powerful voice and now is the perfect time to make it heard.