Fleet News

Fleet panel: relief but frustration over Brown's Budget

IF a week is a long time in politics, it now seems aeons since September 2000 when transport was at the top of the political agenda as the fuel protests brought Britain to a standstill.

Since then there has been the introduction of a new company car tax system, a crisis on the railways, a bitter political fight over the future funding of the London Underground, and confirmation of the imminent introduction of urban congestion charges.

With transport clearly a potential Achilles' heel for the Government, the Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown has instead decided to marshal Government efforts towards the National Health Service and education.

As citizens, the Fleet Panel agree that the future funding of the NHS and schools is important, more important than transport.

However, while some panel members breathed a sigh of relief that the Chancellor announced no major changes to transport policy and especially fleets, following the upheaval caused by the change in company car tax, others pointed out that for the economy to keep working and generating the tax required to meet new Government spending commitments, business needs an efficient transport system.

At least the Treasury will not raise extra cash in the short term from either fuel duty or Vehicle Excise Duty, a factor that was well received by panel members, some of whom also welcomed the marginal incentives to adopt the very 'greenest' cars.

##Yes 56--left## ##No 44--right##

' Should transport issues have featured more highly in a Budget focused on the NHS and education?'

No - there would need first to have been a lengthy softening up process, as there has been with NHS and education issues for significant extra expenditure on transport to have been acceptable at this moment in time to the silent majority of taxpayers.
Reg Dixon, Nifty Lift

Yes, you can keep throwing cash at the NHS and it will not resolve the problems therein. This is a politically motivated Budget, nothing more and nothing less.
Barclay Wales, managing director, Stewart Wales

NIC contributions will hit employers severely and could result in job losses. NIC increases overall understandable if the money is well spent on the NHS etc. However I think there are more fundamental problems in NHS (eg too many administrators and too few nurses) which cannot be sorted simply by throwing money at it. I am not looking forward to being £37 a month worse off though!
Why not scrap employee NIC altogether and raise revenue via income tax - then there will be no accusations of double taxing?
Regarding transport issues, I think we all realised the NHS would be the main focus of the Budget. However, I would have hoped for significant extra cash for our road and rail infrastructure - the poor state of which is partly responsible for the strain on the NHS.
Ian Smith, group accountant, CpiO

No. There are priorities - transport is important but I would rather it was dealt with on a lower profile with level-headed debate and discussion resulting in the right way forward.
T.M. Details supplied

No. I think we need to settle down and absorb the impact of CO2 tax before we have anything else to contend with.
J.D. Details supplied

I think the Budget decision not to hammer the driver as usual was a smart decision, bearing in mind no-one is sure what is going to happen with oil prices in the short or even long term.
The decision to reduce VED on low emission cars is very welcome because I believe we all have a collective responsibility to do all we can to encourage drivers into these types of vehicles wherever possible. It is only by demonstrating these types of vehicles that drivers can get a true feel of the vehicles' potential. Therein lies another problem - manufacturers are not seen to be proactive in supplying demonstration vehicles of this type. They are notoriously difficult to obtain for anything but a single day, when what we really need are long term demonstrators.

On the increase of national insurance, I welcome it partly but wonder if it would not be cheaper for individuals to be given the choice to 'opt out' and pay their own premiums for health insurance.
John Clarke, Fleet Services (South), Telewest

No. We have had enough change for now. Let's have a period of stability. I still think the CO2-based emission system of taxing the private benefit of a company car is unjust and should have a discount scheme for those who do a low private mileage.
G.R. Details supplied

No - it is refreshing for transport and motoring issues to be on the sidelines for a change. I was pleasantly surprised to note that fuel and vehicle excise duty were not increased.
Jeremy Spring, Pechiney

Yes. I suggest, however, it's too big and painful a financial nettle for the Government to grasp. The financial implications of sorting the country's transport system, particularly road traffic, must at least be as potentially expensive as those of sorting the NHS. One is perhaps encouraged to think that the continuing lack of improvement to our road system is an attempt to regulate traffic by encouraging people not to travel. What has not been calculated, however, is the cost to industry, commerce and individuals of increasing congestion.
Len Ward, Protocol Skills

No. Sometimes little news is good news. And I notice LPG is excluded from first year capital allowances, whereas CNG is allowed. Bobbins!
Dave Gill, fleet manager, JM Computing

The roads and railways are used every day by almost everyone, so improving transport is an issue which should have been addressed. I agree that additional funding was needed urgently for the NHS but it will depend on how and where this money is spent as to whether the service improves.

If the Government does not address the transport issues, we will have an updated and efficient health service which no-one can get to due to the continuing downfall of our road and rail systems.
Joanne Hanafan, fleet manager, King UK

No. The Chancellor tackled a number of transport issues, continuing to incentivise the use of cleaner cars and of course raising his tax take from the company car parc with the increased NI contributions. Possibly I am guilty of 'bunker mentality' but can't help believing that if he had decided to tackle transport issues head-on, it could only have led to greater cost and difficulties for fleets. Those of us with vehicles operating in central London already have Ken Livingstone's congestion charging to face next February and CO2-based car tax is now bedding in. Further radical transport initiatives from central Government we do not need at present.
Peter Bonney, fleet manager, Salvation Army

Yes. This country's transport problems are one of many. Any competent government should deal with all problems concurrently, not one at a time. By the time they sort out the NHS and education, Britain will be grid-locked completely.
Mike Bacon, BHR Group

Yes. While NHS is important, the Government is looking for revenue. Transport is a major feature in wealth-creation, particularly in the efficient running of a company and its costs.
Richard Warner, company secretary, Seco Tools

Yes. Considering that we have continually heard transport issues arising from the Government (for the last six months) eg CO2 emission taxation, congestion charges etc, the Chancellor should have concentrated on transport in more depth.
P.G. Details supplied<

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