Fuel duty has been frozen for the 13th consecutive year. However, there was no mention in the Autumn statement by the Chancellor of the Exchequer regarding an extension of the temporary 5p per litre cut, which is set to expire in March.
The Road Haulage Association (RHA) expressed its delight as the government heeded its campaigning efforts, resulting in the freeze on Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) and the Heavy Goods Vehicle (HGV) levy for the fiscal year 2024/25. This move is seen as crucial in providing support to hauliers who are grappling with substantial cost pressures.
The RHA highlighted the challenges faced by the haulage industry, citing a nearly 10% rise in the cost of operating Heavy Goods Vehicles (HGVs) over the past 12 months. Against the backdrop of thin average margins of just 2%, the industry is witnessing reduced activity and a decline in the movement of goods due to cost-of-living challenges. Road freight volumes have dropped by 10%, contributing to an increase in insolvencies and reduced profitability.
Howard Cox, founder of FairFuelUK, expressed gratitude for the freeze but raised concerns about the potential reversal of the temporary 5p cut in duty in the 2024 Budget. Cox emphasized the need for a significant reduction in the regressive levy, coupled with the establishment of an effective pump pricing watchdog, a ‘PumpWatch,’ with real enforcement capabilities.
On a similar note, fuel card provider Right Fuel Card voiced disappointment at the lack of announcements in the Autumn statement regarding further cuts in fuel duty, particularly for commercial users. Matthew Briggs, Right Fuel Card CEO, supported calls by the RHA for an essential user rebate, considering the direct impact of fuel price increases on the stability of businesses during economic stagnation. Despite a slight decline in pump prices, concerns about their impact persist.