Fleet News

MP's 'very minor' cost claim a slap in the face for fleets

JUNIOR transport minister Glenda Jackson has clashed with the fleet industry after she claimed fuel was only a 'very minor' factor in company and fleet running costs. Her comments act as a slap in the face to firms which are paying out hundreds of thousands of pounds in extra fuel costs each year following swingeing Budget increases in fuel duty.

They also discount the critical contribution fleet managers can make to company finances by slashing operating costs through fuel saving measures. Savings from fleets can be so great that experts, including motor industry academic Professor Garel Rhys, director of the Centre for Automotive Industry Research at Cardiff University School, have said that a fleet manager's role is important enough to qualify for a place in the boardroom.

Following Jackson's comments, fleet managers have questioned why the Government is hiking up fuel duty by 6% a year plus inflation if fuel costs are so 'insignificant'. The Budget pushed up unleaded petrol by 3.79p a litre/17.22p a gallon, while diesel went up by 6.14p a litre/27.91p a gallon and ultra-low sulphur diesel increased 4.96p a litre/22.5p a gallon.

Jackson's statement was all the more ironic as she was speaking at the official launch of gas supplier Transco's alternatively fuelled fleet of 40 vehicles, which is a combined move to offset rising fuel costs and help the environment. The company's fuel bill rocketed by £1.5million to more than £11 million following Brown's 'green' Budget tax hikes. Responding to claims that Labour was driving business out of Britain with its fuel tax hikes, Jackson was dismissive, saying: 'There are a whole range of costs in running a fleet and fuel is quite a minor part of that. Transport is a very minor part of overall running costs.'

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