FTA accuses Darling of ‘turning Dracula’ Wed Apr 22 14:39:00 BST 2009

Today’s decision to increase fuel duty from September could be the death knell for parts of the logistics sector, according to the Freight Transport Association (FTA), leading to business closures and widespread job losses.

James Hookham, Policy Director for FTA, said:

“The logistics sector is the lifeblood of the UK economy, and rather than the transfusion we need, Alistair Darling has turned Dracula. Insolvency in the logistics sector has doubled in the last year and the number of HGV drivers looking for work has almost quadrupled. What more evidence does the Government need that parts of the sector are on their knees?”

Figures released earlier this week by FTA showed that nearly half of its members have already laid off staff this year, with a further 40 per cent considering redundancies in the second quarter. Two fuel duty hikes in just five months have landed businesses with an additional £533m bill and the concern is that the increases announced today will make that burden too much for some businesses – in particular, those smaller, family-run operations – to bear.

Hookham warned that hiding behind environmental ‘greenwash’ was fooling no-one:

“The logistics sector has a strong track record of reducing emissions and investing in greener vehicles. Ironically, the Chancellor’s announcement today has put the kibosh on many businesses being able to make that investment. It may be unpopular to tax motorists, but the fact is that private cars add far more to the UK’s CO2 emissions than commercial vehicles. That’s why the time has come for the Government to give serous consideration to different rates of duty for business users and private motorists.”

Notes to Editors
1. The Chancellor announced today (22 April) that fuel duty will rise by two pence per litre from September 2009.
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 from March 2008 to March 2009:
HGV drivers up by 365 per cent
Transport managers up by 190 per cent
Van drivers up by 89 per cent
4. 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.
5. 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.
6. 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.

 

FTA Press Office

01892 552255
press.office@fta.co.uk