Replacing fuel duty with congestion charges could revive the fleet industry and boost the economy, says fuel card reseller The Fuelcard Company.
The recommendation to scrap the current fuel duty system was made by Sir James Mirrlees in the Mirrlees Review which proposes a complete overhaul of the UK tax system.
Although the detail has yet to be revealed, Jakes de Kock, sales and marketing director at The Fuelcard Company, said far from being an outlandish idea, a congestion charge scheme could be a much fairer system of taxation than the current arrangement which unfairly penalises those who drive for a living.
He said: “Levying tax from all drivers, whether they are ‘choosing to drive’ in their private lives or providing an essential service for the country by transporting goods and materials from place to place, is totally unfair. A system of congestion charging would level the playing field and apply to all motorists travelling in a particularly busy area – likely to be in and around city centres – rather than being based on distance covered, as with fuel usage, which places a heavy burden on fleet companies.
“Congestion is the biggest problem we face on UK roads, so surely it would make more sense to levy tax on this area rather than punishing fleet companies who are just doing their jobs.”
Transport companies cover large distances travelling up and down trunk roads between business destinations, but do not often venture into city centres which face the biggest congestion problems.
“The congestion issues we are facing on UK roads are not caused by vans and HGVs but by private motorists who insist on using their vehicles for short local journeys, even when there is a perfectly good bus or rail service in place,” de Kock said.
“Fleet drivers, and those who live in rural areas, do not have the luxury of choice but rely on their vehicles to get around and yet they pay more in fuel duty. A system of congestion charging would redress this imbalance.”
The fuel debate is gathering momentum, with the first meeting of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Fair Fuel for Motorists and Hauliers taking place last Thursday and the FairFuelUK petition being granted a parliamentary debate after reaching 100,000 signatures.
However, de Kock said it is important to maintain pressure with further fuel duty hikes still planned for January 2012.