Drivers braced for fuel duty rise
Drivers face more pain at the pumps on Friday when a planned Government fuel duty rise puts another 1p on the cost of a litre of petrol and diesel.
The Freight Transport Association (FTA) has warned that this "smash-and-grab approach" by Whitehall could put many struggling transport companies on the ropes.
Fears that some firms could go out of business were also expressed by Robert Matthams, founder of Shiply.com, which represents more than 17,500 UK transport firms.
FTA chief economist Simon Chapman said: "Diesel is an unavoidable expense and accounts for a third of the costs of running a truck. Successive above-inflation tax hikes since 2009 mean the freight industry is shouldering a disproportionate burden in narrowing the public sector deficit.
"With another rise due in January and above-inflation rises set for the next three years, many businesses hit hard by the recent recession will feel like they are on borrowed time."
He went on: "The price of oil is the highest it's been for three months and is set to rise further as we come into the autumn peak period of oil demand. With economic recovery still so fragile, now is not the time to compound the problem with artificial price hikes.
"With the duty hike affecting petrol too, the Treasury will net an extra £500 million a year in total from all road users.
"For every £1 of tax raised from road users, just 22p is currently spent on the road network.
"If the Government persists with the strategy of above-inflation rises in fuel duty, it should 'ring fence' the element that exceeds inflation and invest it in those road and rail networks in most urgent need of improvement."
The FTA said the 1p rise would add another £125 million a year to the transport industry's bills.