Delivered on 15 March, the Chancellor’s 2023 Budget statement provoked mixed reactions from the coach and bus sector
Responding to Chancellor Jeremy Hunt’s latest Budget statement, in which he set out the Government’s plans to reduce inflation and grow the economy, CEO of the Confederation of Passenger Transport Graham Vidler said: “The freeze on fuel duty will provide welcome short-term relief to bus and coach operators grappling with rising costs. For the longer term, it is vital that bus and coach win their fair share of funding from the new devolved settlements to ensure we can continue to lead the shift to more sustainable transport.
“In the meantime, we are working with the Government to deliver for passengers, not just those in areas who have won funding. The sector needs a stable, long-term funding settlement to encourage more people to choose bus and coach over car. This is crucial for the UK’s wealth and health.”
Speaking for the Campaign for Better Transport, Silviya Barrett took a different view: “We are disappointed that the Chancellor has chosen to maintain the 5p fuel duty cut for another 12 months and continue the fuel duty freeze for a 13th year, especially as this will disproportionally benefit those who are already better off. If the Government really wanted to help those who are struggling the most with the cost-of-living crisis, and support green growth, it should be helping to reduce the cost of public transport.”
RHA Coaches chairman Richard Bamber shared his thoughts on the Budget with CBW: “I am pleased the Government has maintained the 5p per litre duty reduction, the on-going duty freeze and extended the energy support scheme. There is no doubt the sustained campaigning from RHA and other notables such as Fair Fuel UK has had a positive outcome, and when a cross section of MPs have openly supported us it has shown what strong representation can achieve. Whilst I am disappointed our objective of a 15p per litre reduction has not yet been achieved, it was widely reported that the Government had been looking at raising duty by up to 12p per litre, so we have been able to put a halt to this proposal.
“To control spiralling prices, be it the cost on the shelves or to encourage people to use coaches its imperative energy costs are stabilised. Other measures I would have liked to have seen is the broadening of the ‘boot camp’ scheme set up to recruit HGV drivers with a long term commitment and policy to help recruit a variety of vocational drivers including PCV as well as HGV. There are far more driving jobs than ever before, how we shop has changed massively sped up by the pandemic, be it Amazon, home deliveries from Asda, Uber… the list is endless, so independent careers advice at schools is needed so that students see careers in both logistics and passenger transport, accompanied by a structured recruitment policy from the Government.”