Fleet News

Fleets urged to fight for lower tax on fuel

A CAMPAIGNER who launched fuel protests that crippled Britain's transport system wants fleets to fight for cuts in petrol and diesel duty amid fears that drivers could soon be paying £4 a gallon for fuel.

Brynle Williams was the mastermind of the oil refinery blockades in 2000 that starved Britain of fuel in a dramatic protest over the high levels of duty on petrol and diesel. The campaign only ended when protesters were sure they had secured a promise from Government to reduce duty on some fuels, particularly for hauliers.

With fears of a war with Iraq, combined with strikes in Venezuela affecting oil supply, prices are once again rising, with some experts saying they could reach 90p a litre – or £4 a gallon – in the near future. This would exceed the price levels that sparked protests two years ago, when petrol prices reached £3.86 a gallon.

Williams said fleets had to get involved in demanding fair play on fuel for business to offset another crisis.

He said: 'Everyone is affected by the high price of fuel, from lorry drivers to van fleets and company car drivers. We can't live without fuel and business vehicles are doing an essential job.

'The nation depends on fleets and the industry as a whole needs to campaign for a reduction in duty on fuel when it is for business use.'

Williams, who has been chosen as a Conservative candidate in the Welsh Assembly elections this year, said he was taking an entirely political approach to the problem this time.

But he warned: 'I believe that if fuel prices rise as predicted, then you can expect some form of direct action.'

Williams said although fleets can reclaim the cost of VAT on business fuel, they should demand further reductions in duty on fuel when they can prove it is entirely for business use.

His comments come as fuel experts warn that if there are further fuel price hikes, then fleets could see their budgets severely stretched.

Accountancy firm Tenon claims that prices could rise from the current level of 74p a litre to 90p a litre in the event of hostilities with Iraq.

Danny Clenaghan, managing director of fuel and business mobility at Arval PHH, said: 'Threats of a war in Iraq have led many people to believe that oil supplies out of the Gulf could be disrupted. As a result of this implied shortage, the price of crude oil has risen sharply.

'The longer this uncertainty continues, the longer oil prices will stay high. That, in turn, could mean fuel prices staying at these new levels or perhaps even going up further.

'Higher prices for petrol and diesel will put additional pressure on UK businesses. However, about 75% of the cost of a litre of unleaded is still taken up with fuel taxes and duties. If the price of crude is going to stay high, the Government could win a lot of friends by bringing our fuel duties down.

'Fuel remains the second-biggest cost for fleets, after depreciation, so higher prices for petrol and diesel will put additional pressure on UK businesses.'

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