Haulage firm warns of new tax row

A FELIXSTOWE haulage company said today that half its £50 million turnover now went to the government in tax – and fuel duty rises were adding to the bill.

A FELIXSTOWE haulage company said today that half its £50 million turnover now went to the government in tax – and fuel duty rises were adding to the bill.

Hauliers in Suffolk are waiting for the lead from their national organisations before taking part in any full-scale protest over the 1.28p per litre price hike, but have challenged the government to show how they are spending their tax.

Road Haulage Association chairman Val Smith delivered a formal letter of protest to 10 Downing Street – making sure Prime Minister Tony Blair got the message by turning up in the cab of a brand new DAF lorry.

Felixstowe firms are already feeling the pinch from the rise.

Logistics and distribution company Hanbury Davies' managing director Ian Wilson said: "I don't think the public realise why Hauliers feel so strongly about fuel duty.

"The transport industry is one of the most heavily taxed sectors. We already incur seven direct taxes and collect VAT.

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"We have a burden of direct taxes that means our company and subsidiaries contribute to the government a punitive level of direct tax which equates to approximately 50 per cent of our £50m turnover.

"On top of this we collect approximately £8.75m of VAT for the state.

"The increase in fuel duty will add between £500–£600 per year on every one of our 500 plus vehicles. This will have to be recovered from somewhere and will place additional pressure on an already highly regulated sector.

"In the not too distant future, the haulage industry is also facing another new tax called Road User Pricing. The taxes just keep coming and consequently, the industry is year on year shrinking."

Paul Dawson, managing director of Deben Transport, Felixstowe, said the price rise could cost the firm an extra £100,000 a year.

"What annoys me is that the government's excuse is that we need to improve the environment and reduce greenhouse gases, but if they were serious about that we would see other measures, too," he said.

"Where is this money going? If the government said next year there will not be 200,000 new cars on the road with ordinary petrol engines because 15pc will run on LPG, and we will also spend on other improvements to the environment, people would understand."

The French government is increasing tax on diesel by 2p per litre but exempting professional users to keep the costs down for its road transport industry.

RHA chief executive Roger King said: "The French have distinguished between the professional and non-professional use of diesel fuel for road transport so that their recent 2p per litre increase in tax is rebatable for hauliers. The French government recognises the importance of road transport to their economy."

n What do you think – should hauliers be exempt from the price rise? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk

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