Tony Blair had admitted at this year's TUC conference there had been 'two tough years' of 'unpopular' fuel tax rises, only for the Treasury to insist there would be no change in policy. So Brown's revelation in his pre-Budget announcement that the fuel tax escalator fixed at 6% had achieved its purpose and would be watered down was welcomed by fleet managers.
Paul Holmes, fleet manager at British Gas, said: 'The abolition of the escalator is nothing but good news as it will help to stop the divide between us and Europe. This announcement represents a non-increase of costs for companies running big fleets, but it is a shame it has taken so long. Big fleets will make significant savings.'
Martin Hall, fleet and insurance manager for the British Trust for Conservation Volunteers, welcomed the news both in operational and environmental terms. A 1% saving in fuel costs would save the organisation £5,000 a year. The announcement shows that the escalator was not achieving its objective of reducing traffic on the roads,' he said.
But John Laing's fleet administration manager, David Lee said the announcement was 'all smoke and mirrors' and that the Government 'will still do what it wants to with fuel prices'. He also cast doubt over the Chancellor's plan to ring fence any revenues from above inflation fuel price rises for road and public transport improvements. 'We will never be able to establish he is fulfilling his promise. This will be a short-lived initiative.'