Road hauliers responded angrily to the 2p per litre rise in fuel duty announced by Alistair Darling.
The increase, combined with a revised fuel duty escalator rise of inflation plus half a pence per litre from next March, was a “severe double hammer blow” for the industry, Road Haulage Association chief executive Roger King said.
“This will further damage the UK haulage industry and the competitiveness of UK industry and it will lead to further increases in the cost of everything we buy, including food and other essentials.
“Many of Britain’s road hauliers face being priced off the road by foreign competition benefitting from the new open market for haulage but fuelled with diesel hugely cheaper than can be bought in the UK.”
Mr Darling had ignored pleas from the industry to keep fuel costs within manageable levels to enable to compete with foreign trucks which the Government says are eight times more likely to be involved in a fatal or serious accident, Mr King said.
“Government purports to want a competitive UK economy but then adds to its costs by increasing tax on transport, an absolutely essential part of our wealth-generating infrastructure.”
Ian Baxter, managing director of RH Freight, which employs more than 650 staff at 19 depots, including one in Birmingham, said the industry was already “reeling” from the fuel duty rise earlier this month.
“Each 2p rise in fuel duty costs us around an additional £100,000 per year in fuel costs, which we have to absorb or pass on. The services we provide are an essential part of the British economy but increases like this squeeze our margins further and could have a devastating impact on the smaller haulage operators.
“Once again the Government insists on imposing additional penalties on our industry in already difficult circumstances.”