Fleet News

Fleets in the firing line again

COMPANY car tax could increase to help pay for improvements in public transport ahead of the possible introduction of congestion and workplace parking charges. With Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott's long-awaited but significantly 'watered down' Transport Bill pledging that 'public transport will be improved first, before charging starts', there are fears that Government will once again use the motorist, and company car drivers in particular, as a cash-cow.

Fuel duty increases above inflation have already been earmarked to fund improvements in public transport and this week both the Conservative Party and Friends of the Earth said company car tax levels could be increased to further fund improvements. However, with Prescott announcing that road charging and workplace parking charges may not be introduced until 2005, some pundits believe that they may never be seen because of their political unacceptability.

Prescott has already passed the buck for introducing the charges from central government to local government and the AA has said that around £2 billion must be spent to improve transport services. The Government is known to have built up a 'cash war-chest' and Roger Higman, Friends of the Earth's atmosphere and transport senior campaigner, says cash can be raised to ensure public transport improvements are in place prior to charges being introduced. He said: 'Funding is only a problem if Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown does not want to spend the money. The amount of money needed compared to the amount of money which could be raised is comparatively small.'

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