Our government seems to be committed to finding a way of making a Lorry Road User Charge scheme work, with its programme including a new system of charging which will ‘ensure a fairer arrangement for UK hauliers.’
The RHA’s established policy on fuel duty is in three parts: we are looking for stability on prices; we expect to see meaningful charges being applied to foreign operators, and we require a rebate scheme that will result in no increase in costs for UK hauliers. It is on this basis that any discussion with the DfT will be taken forward.
We are aware that others will have different views, not least the LibDems who pre-election were talking of a charging scheme, the proceeds of which would be used not to compensate UK hauliers but to fund a major expansion of the rail network.
It is also likely that environmental groups will see an HGV charging scheme as a means of promoting their totally unjustified claim that UK-registered trucks do not pay their way. Needless to say, that is a point which we will be vigorously rejecting, as there is more than enough evidence to show that the real problem is foreign vehicles which contribute nothing, despite taking a very large proportion of UK long-distance haulage work.
It is encouraging to see that the government wishes to ‘ensure a fairer arrangement for UK hauliers.’ The challenge is to ensure that real progress is made, that the work is not distracted by meaningless diversions designed to slow down or even halt development, and that the agenda is not confused by parties with other objectives which are irrelevant or misleading. Equally important is the need to avoid being tempted into a deal that does not meet the three tests set out above: stability of prices, charging that applies to foreign operators and a significant rebate for UK firms.
The RHA will be embarking on a series of meetings with the DfT and the Treasury designed to pursue our aims. This work will be supported by a growing number of RHA members who have agreed to assist us by getting involved in Deliver UK – a targeted programme of contact with MPs.
For too long, our industry has failed to get its message into Parliament, with the vast majority of MPs knowing little or nothing about road haulage. That has to change, and the RHA is helping any member who is prepared to get involved. Whether you have one truck or a fleet, your voice is important to ensure that the haulage industry’s views are heard in Westminster. No other single influence has as much impact on the legislator as informed communication from industry experts such as RHA members. Your association will be taking the lead and, together, we can make our voice heard.