Despite the economic gloom, the recent budget has brought with it at least some good news, as Chancellor George Osborne scraps the planned 3p-a-litre rise in the cost of fuel duty.
Hard-pressed van drivers will welcome the much needed respite with welcome arms. If the hike in fuel duty had gone ahead drivers filling an average tank would have had to fork out £2 more on the cost of petrol or diesel.
Stuart Kerr, chief executive of Ford retail, said: “The news that the fuel duty rise has been cancelled will be welcomed by commercial drivers. But prices remain high, and we expect fuel efficiency to remain the top priority on van managers’ shopping lists.”
A typical business running a fleet of 20 Ford Transit vans would have faced an annual increase of £4,000 in the cost of their fuel bill if the rise had gone ahead, representing an additional expense that many SMEs would have found difficult to absorb during a time when many are having to tighten their belts.
The escalating problem presented by rising fuel costs is highlighted by the fact that, even with this small victory for van operators, petrol prices are still 5p-a-litre higher than when the Chancellor froze fuel duty in March 2011.
With the cost of running a vehicle on the rise, one might assume that van operators were taking every step to try to reduce their bill. However, a recent survey by Nissan shows that 25 per cent of van operators are not taking any efforts to try to curtail their expenses.
Chris Chandler, speaking on behalf of vehicle leasing company Lex Autolease, said: “Van operators must take proactive steps to ensure drivers are given fuel efficient vehicles and are taught how to drive them efficiently and plan their routes effectively.
“Fuel efficient driving techniques will not only reduce fuel costs but will also increase safety and lower maintenance and repair costs.”
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