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UK Fuel Prices Continue To Rise - Haulage Companies Suffer

Nov 22, 2007
There's been a lot of unrest lately from Haulage Exchange members about the rising fuel prices in the UK, and I can't say I blame them!

Over the past three years bulk diesel prices have increased by 23%, and have shot up 50% since 1999. Domestic fuel prices have increased its price on a weekly basis for over 2 months, really squeezing haulage companies' profitability.

I understand the need to raise domestic fuel prices - I really do. Extra taxes to be spent on essential public services are doubtless a good thing, as is the added bonus that taxing people to use cars will encourage the use of public transport, reducing our carbon emissions. I don't quibble with the principle. The trouble is that haulers have no choice. It's their job - you can't expect an owner operator to take his freight on the bus! The expectation from the government seems to be that the haulage companies are benefiting from the fuel, and they should therefore pay the same as everyone else, but it just doesn't work like that! If the haulage companies and owner operators went on strike (or were possibly driven out of business) everyone would suffer - there'd be no urgent deliveries, competition would reduce meaning the cost of delivery would go up, and perhaps worst of all for the government there'd be far less people to buy the extortionate petrol in the first place!

What we need are tax breaks for haulage companies and owner operators - we're not commuters, we don't have a choice and we're facing a struggle to make ends meet if the UK fuel prices don't fall for us. And if people struggle to make ends meet, they look elsewhere for something more profitable - the government seems to be facing a UK haulage crisis, but doesn't seem in the slightest bit fazed. We had hoped that Alistair Darling would be significantly more sympathetic to the truckers' cause, what with him previously being the transport secretary, but there seems to be no budging from him over this thorny issue.

As a result of this, it's no wonder we're hearing talk of road blockades and striking reminiscent of September 2000. Currently, the Road Haulage Association is (rightly) advising its members that blockades will achieve nothing and be unlawful, but that's what desperation prompts in people - desperate measures. Something has to be done about domestic fuel prices urgently, and time will tell whether the government will defuse this timebomb before it goes off.

Being a member of a freight exchange like ours is a good start - if you cut down on dead mileage, then you have bigger profits to spend on the fuel, but it's a poor consolation. We need tax breaks for haulage companies and owner operators before the industry begins to feel an even bigger squeeze. And despite the Road Haulage Associations assurances that striking and road blockades are the wrong way to go ahead with things, the longer the truckers are discontented for, the more likely such desperate measures are to go ahead - with or without the RHA's backing.
About the Author
Luke Humble is the Website manager for The Transport Exchange Group. Their two exchanges, Courier Exchange and Haulage Exchange, are two of the UK's largest and fastest growing independent freight exchanges.
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