When the prime minister and the chancellor of the exchequer start to fall out you know there is trouble ahead. And it is hardly surprising that the issue which seems to be blighting relations is fuel tax. When David Cameron said he thought the government should share the pain of rising fuel prices, it was, not surprisingly, met with a frosty response from George Osborne, who could see an opportunity to add a few more coppers to his rather depleted piggy bank.
The price of diesel has been rising steadily for several months and as I write the average price at the pump stands at 131.8p.
No wonder that the campaign to do something has been gaining ground. Last month both the Freight Transport Association and the Road Haulage Association gave their backing to the Fair Fuel UK campaign.
The campaign is being organised by Peter Carroll who organised the successful campaign on behalf of the Gurkhas. He says: “That campaign and its success were no accident. It was a systematic high intensity lobbying campaign of the kind I am now calling on you to support for the road haulage industry and everyday motorists.”
It aims to force the government to abandon the next increase in fuel duty planned for April, which it believes could add as much as another 3.5p to the cost of a litre. It also wants a fuel price stabiliser put in place to keep fuel costs down. There is a petition which you can sign on the Fair Fuel web site.
No-one ever likes it when fuel prices rise, but they are hitting particularly hard at the moment – coming on top of government cuts and rising VAT. Not surprisingly, it is smaller logistics operators that are going to feel the pain most. Of course, the government doesn’t have to increase the duty on fuel to increase its tax take – the rising price of fuel means that its VAT revenue rises automatically. So it is hardly unreasonable to expect the government to do something to alleviate the pain.
There is a question mark over whether a “fuel stabiliser” can be made to work, but what is clear is that the government should give it a go.