The Freight Transport Association (FTA) has added its voice to those urging the Chancellor not to raise fuel duty in his Budget on March 11.

The PRA, motoring organisations and backbench Tory MPs have all called on the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, not to increase the duty rate, after reports that a rise of 2ppl was being planned.

Christopher Snelling, head of UK Policy at FTA, said such a change would cause damage to the economy while not assisting government plans to transition the UK to a low-emission economy.

He explained: “Ahead of the Budget, FTA is urging government to listen to the concerns of the industry which is the lifeblood of business and manufacturing. A rise in fuel duty would damage the UK economy and must be avoided.

“Rising fuel costs are already threatening the UK’s future business prospects, and as we enter into the post-Brexit period, and with many businesses already facing challenging economic conditions, any tax increase would stoke inflation, add to business costs and threaten the livelihoods of small businesses working with HGVs and vans.  

“This year, small businesses will be forced to upgrade their fleets early to meet the government’s Clean Air Zone requirements, at their own cost. To penalise them at the same time via a fuel duty increase would be deeply unfair, and unsustainable for many businesses.” 

 Snelling added: “Such an increase will not help the environment as the alternatives to diesel that we need are not ready – the government has still not set the definition of an Ultra-Low Emission Truck – and the electricity supply needed for mass use of zero emission vans is not in place. Making the operation of diesel trucks more expensive would not push people to change, as there is no direct substitute.”