Last year’s job losses ‘could be eclipsed’ in 2009 thanks to Government policy, says FTA Mon Apr 20 15:49:00 BST 2009

"Fuel duty increases may seem like an easy option to bring funds into the Treasury, but they come at a huge cost. Last year alone, insolvency in the logistics sector doubled, with the result that the number of HGV drivers claiming Jobseekers’ Allowance went up by an extraordinary 236 per cent. What our members are telling us is that those numbers could be eclipsed this year, yet the Government seems utterly indifferent to the damage."

FTA chief executive Theo de Pencier

Government indifference to the logistics sector is exacerbating the impact of the recession. That was the damning verdict of the Freight Transport Association (FTA) today as it released figures showing a marked increase in redundancies within the sector in the first quarter of 2009.

According to a poll of its members, almost half have already made redundancies this year, with a further third considering job losses in the second quarter. While the economic downturn is undoubtedly a factor, two fuel duty increases in just five months have reduced business resilience and cost people their jobs.

With the Budget just days away, there is increasing alarm within the business community that the Chancellor will once again raise fuel duty in order to fill Treasury coffers. Such action, FTA warns, will push businesses into administration and make job losses inevitable.

FTA chief executive Theo de Pencier said:

“Fuel duty increases may seem like an easy option to bring funds into the Treasury, but they come at a huge cost. Last year alone, insolvency in the logistics sector doubled, with the result that the number of HGV drivers claiming Jobseekers’ Allowance went up by an extraordinary 236 per cent. What our members are telling us is that those numbers could be eclipsed this year, yet the Government seems utterly indifferent to the damage.”

Last month, FTA launched the Every Penny Counts campaign, urging the Government to rethink its plans to increase both fuel duty and the fees levied by the Department for Transport’s executive agencies. Despite widespread support from within Parliament, including the Government’s own backbenches, these calls were ignored.

De Pencier concluded:

“The Government can no longer put its head in the sand about the impact successive rises in fuel duty is having on UK jobs. Balancing the Treasury books is not simply an economic exercise and logistics jobs and businesses should not be seen as collateral damage.”

Notes to Editors
1. FTA carried out its Quarterly Transport Activity Survey earlier this month. Of those members who responded, 48 per cent said that they had made redundancies in the last quarter, while a further 30 per cent said they are considering redundancies in the second quarter of 2009. Nearly 40 per cent have cut back on using agency drivers.
2. Fuel duty increased on 1 December 2008 by two pence per litre (ppl) and by a further 1.84ppl on 1 April 2009. Cumulatively, these increases have placed an additional £533 million burden on logistics businesses.
3. According to Office of National Statistics figures, claims for Jobseekers’ Allowance have risen markedly within the logistics sector in 2008:
HGV drivers up by 236 per cent
Transport managers up by 114 per cent
Van drivers up by 60 per cent
4. The Freight Transport Association represents the transport interests of companies moving goods by road, rail, sea and air. FTA members operate over 220,000 goods vehicles – almost half the UK fleet. In addition they consign over 90 per cent of the freight moved by rail and over 70 per cent of sea and air freight.

 

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