FTA: Skills shortage and fuel duty should be priority for Chancellor

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The Freight Transport Association (FTA) has called on the Chancellor to support the freight industry by cutting fuel duty and investing in training and driver facilities in his Autumn Statement.

The organisation sent its submission to the Chancellor this week together with a letter from Chief Executive David Wells, highlighting three key issues for the industry – a skills shortage, fuel duty and infrastructure investment.

FTA asked George Osborne to support industry-led training schemes and student loan-type arrangements for those seeking to acquire vocational skills. The association also said Government funding for improved roadside facilities, including lorry parks, would make the industry a more attractive prospective employer.

The submission also called for a 3p per litre reduction in fuel duty to ease cost pressures on domestic road freight, stimulate economic growth and create jobs. The association welcomed the Chancellor’s freeze on duty in his July Budget and urged him not to put pressure on operators by putting up prices.

Karen Dee, FTA’s Director of Policy, said: “The Chancellor and Prime Minister have both emphasised that their priority is to protect the UK economy and boost productivity. The Government’s decision to freeze fuel duties for the past five years has delivered much needed relief not only to the logistics sector, which faces continuing difficult trading conditions, but also to the wider motoring public who rely on their cars to get to and from work.

“But independent research has shown that a 3ppl cut in duty would deliver further benefits – creating jobs, boosting GDP, and in some circumstances, delivering a net increase in tax revenues.

“Skills shortages are presenting a huge challenge to the logistics sector currently which could have far-reaching effects on the UK economy. The industry is working hard to address this, but Government also has a key role to play.

“Investment in skills training and in improvements to roadside facilities would have a significant impact on our industry, helping to make it a more attractive and aspirational career choice for young people.”