Boris hints at fuel duty freeze as petrol prices hit EIGHT-YEAR high
Boris hints at fuel duty freeze in Budget as petrol prices hit EIGHT-YEAR high – with PM blaming road haulage firms for lack of foreign drivers taking up emergency visa offer
- Boris Johnson has hinted at fuel duty freeze in Budget to ease strain on drivers
- Petrol and diesel prices have hit their highest levels in eight years amid chaos
- PM said he did not want to raise taxes ‘of any kind’ when asked about a freeze
Boris Johnson today hinted at a fuel duty freeze in the Budget as petrol prices hit an eight-year high.
The PM said he does not want to increase ‘tax of any kind’ when he was pressed on whether a rise in duty will be shunned to ease pressure on motorists.
He also suggested that road haulage firms were to blame for just 127 emergency visas for drivers having been granted – saying they had not come forward with names.
‘What we said to the road haulage industry was: ‘Fine, give us the names of the drivers that you want to bring in and we will sort out the visas, you’ve got another 5,000 visas’,’ Mr Johnson told BBC Breakfast.
‘They only produced 127 names so far. What that shows is the global shortage.’
The Department for Transport later clarified that of the 127 visas issued, 27 were for fuel tanker drivers and the remaining 100 were for food hauliers.
The PM’s comments came as average petrol prices rose 0.91p a litre in a week from 135.19p to 136.1p, and diesel 1.7p from 137.9p to 139.2p.
Boris Johnson said he does not want to increase ‘tax of any kind’ when he was pressed on whether a rise in duty will be shunned to ease pressure on motorists.
The PM’s comments came as average petrol prices rose 0.91p a litre in a week from 135.19p to 136.1p, and diesel 1.7p from 137.9p to 139.2p
It is the highest level for petrol since it cost 136.9p in September 2013, and for diesel since it was 139.15p in October of the same year.
Mr Johnson insisted Christmas would be better than last year’s coronavirus-blighted festive season, despite warnings about supply chain problems.
However he has repeatedly refused to rule out shortages in the wider economy in the run-up to the festive season.
As well as an estimated shortfall of 100,000 HGV drivers, businesses from meat producers to retailers have warned of empty shelves if the shortages are not addressed.
The Road Haulage Association (RHA) disagreed with Mr Johnson’s comments over the Government asking for names of European lorry drivers they want to work in the UK.
Rod McKenzie, managing director of policy and public affairs at the RHA, said: ‘There isn’t a database of lorry drivers with names attached to them and want to work in Britain that British lorry firms can tap into and say: ‘We’ll have that one, that one, that one or that one’. It doesn’t work like that, it doesn’t exist.’
He added: ‘Why would you give up a well-paid job in Europe to come and drive a truck in Britain for a very short period of time when you have to get a six-month let on a flat and go through all the hassle, initially to be chucked out on Christmas Eve, but now, we’re told, for a bit later?
‘It is not an attractive offer and, effectively, what Europeans have done is kind of vote with their feet on that.’
As part of his plan to boost wages, there has been speculation that Mr Johnson might use his speech to announce a hike in the minimum wage.
Mr Johnson would not be drawn on the prospect, insisting the Low Pay Commission ‘has to report in the normal way and we will look at what they say’.
There are still queues at filling stations, although the problems seem to have abated
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