The Chancellor, Philip Hammond, unveiled the government’s latest Budget statement last month and it’s been a bit of a mixed bag for hauliers and fleet operators. Freezes in fuel duty and excess duty on HGVs come as welcome news after rises were predicted before the Budget.
The economy currently faces a difficult time, with inflation at its highest level in five years and various uncertainties still surrounding the Brexit negotiations. Operators would have been looking to the Autumn statement for some reassurances, but many will be left wondering whether enough is being done.
Fortunately for many motorists, the fuel duty freeze has been extended into 2018-19 helping to keep running costs down. However, fuel prices are still rising despite this freeze, leading some in the industry to call for the Chancellor to consider cutting duty in future.
There will also be a freeze on VED and Road User Levy rates for HGVs in effect from next April. On top of this, the government intends to investigate how the Levy can be updated to encourage efficient route planning, air quality improvements and how hauliers can be rewarded accordingly.
Looking to the future
A key focus of the Budget statement looks at the advancement of EVs and driverless technology. The Chancellor called support for electric vehicles “a change that needs to come as soon as possible.” Funding will be allocated to research and development into vehicle charging, as well as implementing the necessary infrastructure nationwide.
It’s expected that autonomous and electric vehicles will one day form the bulk of transportation in the UK. A lot of research and development is required before this vision of the future can become a reality, meaning that the government’s investment into newer and cleaner technologies is expected to receive a warm welcome across the fleet industry.
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