Transport and haulage

New £1.5bn stretch of toll road proposed by the Highways Agency could cost lorry drivers £6 for a round trip

haulage toll roadAccording to the Close Brothers Business Barometer* only 30% of SMEs in the transport and haulage industry are benefiting from current trading conditions.

This is unlikely to be helped by the Highways Agency’s plan to build a new £1.5bn stretch of toll road between Cambridge and Huntingdon. A fifth of the £300m improvement costs will be raised by tolling a 12mile stretch of the major freight route, at £1.50 for cars and £3 for lorries.

The Suffolk Chamber of Commerce has described the move as a 'tax upon business', while the Road Haulage Association said in a statement that it could set a 'very worrying precedent'.

Driver demand rises

percentage infographicDrivers in demand as employers start to prepare for the busy Christmas period

43% of transport firms surveyed in the Close Brothers Business Barometer* say they plan to hire permanent, full-time staff in the next 12 months.

The Manpower Employment Outlook Survey reflects this trend with a fourth quarter employment outlook of +2% for the transport sector as it begins recruiting drivers for the busy Christmas period.

While all types of drivers are in demand, the recovering construction sector requires an influx of Class 1 drivers and Class 2 lorry loaders. The postal market, courier firms and retailers are looking for Cat B and 7.5T drivers for home deliveries.

Fuel duty freeze

Petrol pumpsChancellor George Osborne's commitment to freeze the level of fuel duty is a boost to the sector

In a speech to the Conservative Party conference, Chancellor George Osborne committed to freezing fuel duty until the next election. According to FairFuelUK, which campaigns for a cut in fuel duty, the freeze could save the haulage industry and small businesses over £30bn by 2015.

The Road Haulage Association (RHA) has been pressing the government for this tax freeze as their research demonstrates that a cut in duty would boost growth and create jobs.

The cash this freeze will release could be a boost to the 19% of transport firms surveyed in the Close Brothers Business Barometer* that can see opportunities to grow their businesses, but who don’t have the necessary finance to do so.

*The Close Brothers Business Barometer is conducted on a quarterly basis. It canvasses the opinion of SME owner managers on a range of issues affecting their business.

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