Worries for haulage firms after fuel hike

FEARS were last night raised that many haulage companies in the region could be forced out of business after a rise in the price of fuel.

The Government increased the cost of petrol and diesel by 1p a litre, which came into effect on Friday.

Motoring groups and transport companies have condemned the move as damaging and unnecessary.

Last night Peter Butler, Suffolk area manager for the Road Haulage Association, said many smaller companies that were already feeling the pinch could be forced out of business.

He said: “What is the raw commodity that hauliers need to operate? It is diesel.

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“If it is going to cost them a penny a litre more, the average fuel tank is 500litres – that’s �5 each time they fill up.

“At eight miles to the gallon, we are talking in the region of �1,500 a year per vehicle.

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“All it is going to do is fuel inflation. The costs will have to be passed on to the customer, who will pass it on to their customer and so on. At the end of the day it will be the public, like you and I, who will have to pay.

“There is a definite worry over smaller businesses. If they can’t pass the cost on and the customer refuses to pay, what can they do?

“The only thing they can do is cease trading. It will happen.

“Obviously, the Government has got to find money from somewhere but why always hit the motorists and hauliers?

“You could always put it on to VAT so that it can be claimed back.”

The Freight Transport Association described the move as a “smash-and-grab approach” that could put many struggling transport companies on the ropes.

Chief economist Simon Chapman said: “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.”

The AA’s president Edmund King added: “Pushing the petrol price almost to the level of the 2008 record high simply continues the folly of creating more pain for less gain. This increase could backfire as it will hinder economic growth.”

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