In response, the FTA said that whilst it has welcomed the Chancellor’s announcement to freeze fuel, it has also expressed disappointment that he did not take the opportunity to reduce fuel duty.
In its pre-Budget submission FTA told the Chancellor that a reduction would make an important contribution towards protecting the UK economy.
James Hookham, FTA managing director of policy and communications, said: “A further freeze of duties is welcome but the Chancellor missed a chance to give a boost to the stuttering economy by reducing the tax on an essential business input.”
As part of its pre-Budget submission, the FTA asked the Chancellor to consider the economic benefits that could be delivered by further development of the government’s approach to fuel duty. The association said that reducing road fuel duty would ease cost pressure on businesses operating commercial vehicles and stimulate economic growth.
FTA figures estimate that every penny of fuel duty costs commercial vehicle operators £120m a year, and a 3ppl cut would have saved around £350m a year for an industry that all British businesses rely upon.
However, the FTA said that news that tolls on the Severn bridges are to be halved is a step in the right direction and also welcomed the Government’s commitment to evaluate the costs and benefits for developing a free-flow barrier-free tolling system.
Ian Gallagher, FTA head of policy for the South West and Wales, said: “As always the devil is in the detail – the Chancellor has said that the tolls will be reduced when the bridges are in public ownership but this is subject to public consultation. If the Government must consult, this should be carried out prior to handover so that a reduction in charges is in place from day one.
“FTA would urge the Government to look at starting the process of free-flow technology prior to the handover in 2018.”
The association has previously stated its view that the tolls are an unfair burden on both businesses and commuters and called for them to be reduced as soon as possible.
Gallagher added: “Reducing the tolls will be a welcome shot in the arm for businesses and commuters who use the bridges daily, allowing businesses to invest in the things that matter such as new vehicles and staff recruitment.”