is one of Britain’s best-known motoring authorities and is lead campaigner for FairFuelUK. He spent over a decade presenting BBC's Top Gear alongside Jeremy Clarkson and was largely responsible for bringing the once scandalously high prices of new cars in the UK down to the same level as the rest of Europe.
The Heavy Transport Association is celebrating 30 years in Business. They have produced a brilliant publication of what their industry is all about. They have included on Page 128 a history of FairFuelUK. Take a look here
Monday, November 10, 2014
In yesterday's edition of Scotland on Sunday there are warnings that the UK government might restore the unpopular fuel duty escalator system due to falling oil prices and falling North Sea tax revenue. Three years ago George Osborne introduced a fuel stabiliser system as oil prices surged above $115 a barrel. He said "the escalator – it allows petrol duty to increase by the level of inflation plus 1 penny per litre – could be re-introduced if prices fell below $75 a barrel.”
FairFuelUK is calling on Mr Osborne to immediately quash these rumours of raising fuel duty and that he most certainly intends to stick to his promise of maintaining a freeze in Fuel Duty for the foreseeable future. In addition will he also look into the Campaign’s proof, endorsed by his own Treasury, that in fact for the benefit of the UK economy it is best that fuel duty should be cut? FairFuelUK is calling for a 3p per litre cut.
Quentin Willson from FairFuelUK said: "Raising fuel duty now will slow down growth, increase inflation and effect interest rates. You can't tell the oil companies off one week and then raise fuel tax the next. This is nuts.”
Commenting, RHA Chief Executive Richard Burnett said: "The UK economy is massively dependent on an efficient, cost effective, logistics network. Fuel represents over a third of a road haulier’s operating costs so for our industry, every single penny counts. A single 44 tonne articulated trucks does approximately 8 miles to the gallon and the knock-on effect of a single penny increase in fuel duty will add over £450 per annum to its running costs. The Road Haulage Association, together with our campaign partners, FairFuelUK, will continue to lobby hard for a 3 pence per litre reduction in fuel duty. Any announcement that duty levels are to rise is, for the economy in general and the UK haulage industry in particular, quite unthinkable. Our members move the economy. Any increase in their costs will, quite simply, bring it to a standstill.”
Howard Cox, Founder of the FairFuelUK Campaign said; "We have heard rumours from several reliable sources that raising Fuel Duty is an option under consideration by the Treasury in the lead up to the Autumn Statement to compensate for less tax revenues from North Seal Oil sales due to the recent lower oil prices worldwide. We will be meeting with Priti Patel, Treasury Secretary, on Monday 17th November and will be seeking reassurance from her that fuel duty increases are indeed just rumours."
Saturday, November 8, 2014
When’s the last time you saw two government ministers having a good old go at oil companies and petrol retailers? Not recently I’ll bet. But then things have changed rather a lot in the last 12 months. Oh, and let’s not forget there’s an election looming too. This week George Osborne and Danny Alexander warned petrol retailers to quickly pass on falls in the price of crude to consumers is because the oil price has plunged 25% since June. And that fall is because the power balance in the Kingdom of Oil has changed significantly.
America is now the world’s largest producer of crude oil and the Saudis have lost the top spot. Fracking across the US has increased global output significantly and Obama has eased restrictions on America exporting oil. Demand in China and Europe has fallen so there’s an oversupply situation as well. In the past OPEC have controlled prices by restricting supply, but now they’re reluctant because they’re afraid of losing market share. America holds all the cards as the world’s major producer and the Arabs are playing the waiting game. They’re leaving supply unchanged because they hope the price will fall to around $70 a barrel (its $83 at the moment) at which point fracking could become uneconomical and the market may then swing back in their favour.
A lot, an awful lot, of course depends on China and if their recession is deeper than predicted, low oil demand could still keep prices low for the next couple of years. Some analysts and banks are predicting that we could be looking at low crude prices for a good while yet. What’s also interesting is that oil speculators have lost their ability to hike up the market as well. They tried back in June with fears over ISIS incursions into Libya and talked the price up to $115, but it quickly fell back and has been falling ever since. For the first time (probably ever) a western democracy is in charge of oil prices and the normal constraints of supply and demand are taking hold. Oil is finding a natural price level.
The tumbling price has taken everybody by surprise, not least in the UK where the historic 25% drop has only translated into a 5% cut at the pumps. Oil majors, refiners and some retailers have clearly been hanging onto bigger wholesale margins longer and not passing them onto consumers quickly enough. For politicians approaching an election this is a heaven sent opportunity to ride the cost of living bandwagon and to sternly tell the big bad oil boys off. Osborne and Alexander do have a point though. Crude now costs a quarter less than it did in June so there must be savings to be passed down the supply chain. Interestingly, as soon as FairFuelUK and the ministers stated to talk about this in the media, that same afternoon supermarkets made an announcement that they were cutting prices - a reflexive reaction to negative publicity. A clear demonstration that cuts at the pumps can happen very quickly indeed.
I do have to say though that it was slightly hypocritical of the Government to take the moral high ground against the oil industry when 63% of what we pay at the pumps goes to The Treasury in duty and VAT. When it comes to petrol and diesel, Westminster is by far the biggest earner and to blame all our forecourt woes on the fuel retailers really isn’t fair. Around 80 pence of every litre still goes to Mr Osborne and that’s the highest fuel duty level in Europe after Norway. And the Norwegians certainly don’t rely a road economy like we do.
So as well as asking the government to cut duty before the next election, we at FairFuelUK are asking,directly through a letter to George Osborne (click on the letter to see full text),
for an truly independent enquiry into oil price manipulation and forecourt pricing. We did ask the OFT to look into this in 2013 and I presented a weighty petition at the OFT doors to prove there was significant public interest but the OFT reckoned there was no case to answer. Well, the last week has proved there’s still confusion and anger at the way fuel prices go up so quickly and fall so slowly and the industry either needs to explain this complicated market to us clearly or do the right thing and pass the falls in the price of crude oil to consumers much quicker than they do. Either way we need much more transparency.
But the most important change of the last 12 months (and one we’re very proud of at FairFuelUK) is that politicians now understand that low fuel prices are good for the economy and stimulate growth. Hearing The Chancellor and Chief Secretary to The Treasury talking about the social and economic benefits of low fuel prices means that the bad old days of high fuel prices being a necessary part of the UK’s taxation strategy have gone forever and road fuel can’t be used as a taxation panacea any more. And we at FairFuelUK did that. We proved to The Treasury that suspending all those fuel escalators over the last three years has actually increased GDP by 0.5%. That’s a major victory.
So I predict that as we approach an election we’ll be hearing more ministers talking about lower transport costs being a good thing for the UK economy. We at FairFuelUK are going to make sure that everybody (including the Government) is aware that it’s not just the oil industry that must act responsibly, but The Treasury too. With all this political moral outrage going on its time the Government did its bit and cut prices too. A minimum 3p cut on every litre would simply be the right and responsible thing to do. After all, as The Treasury and Bank of England tells us, cheaper fuel stimulates growth and lowers inflation.
Keep supporting the FairFuelUK Campaign
Thursday, October 23, 2014
We are delighted to say that the launch of our FairFuelUK
Manifesto for Growth 2015 that highlights the Campaign Objectives listed below was
a great success. Massive thanks to Jason McCartney MP (middle) and his team for sponsoring
the launch in Westminster. There was a cross party turnout of 50 MPs with over
70 sending their apologies for not being able to attend but wishing good luck
for the event. Every MP picked up their copy and those that did not make it had
a copy put in their pigeon hole in Parliament this morning. The good news is
the vast majority of these MPs support FairFuelUK. Robert Halfon MP (right) a long time supporter of FairFuelUK and now PPS to George Osborne made sure a copy of the Manifesto from Howard Cox (co-founder on left in photo) was handed to the Chancellor personally on the afternoon of the event.
Here are the Campaign Manifesto Objectives:
Stop any Fuel Duty Rises in this Parliament and
beyond. The Campaign has achieved this objective up to May 2015, but the
Government may still go back on freezing Fuel Duty, if economic pressures push
the Treasury into exploiting this compliant cash cow for easy reward. Please
remember, without FairFuelUK’s measured approach the previously planned Fuel
Duty rises would mean road users would now be paying anything up to £1.65 pence
per litre. What would that have done to any chance of economic recovery?
Cut Fuel Duty by 3p. The vast majority of
British adults are in favour of a 3p cut in Fuel Duty, believing that it would
be beneficial to them personally, or to the wider economy (see ComRes Research
later in this report). It’s critical that the Government and the 2015 - 2020
administration go further and Cut Fuel Duty significantly for the benefit of
its proven economic growth stimulus effect and deliver what the whole nation
wants. Thanks to FairFuelUK it’s recognised by the Treasury that lower fuel
prices are indeed good for the economy. Great news indeed, but how far will
they take the common sense, majority recognised and risk free pathway of
cutting Fuel Duty significantly – We have convinced the Government to
comprehend that by sensibly controlling Fuel Duty. It is a true growth stimulus
not just that preordained comfort blanket for the Treasury. Our bullet proof
evidence shows that a 3p Fuel Duty cut is both sensible, reasonable and not
such a "brave” target cut, that some Treasury oracles reel out on every
opportunity as being too risky. Instead, it would show the Exchequer that such
a cut would in fact help gain any ‘missing’ tax receipts from the resultant
increase in consumer demand, more VAT, growth in business profitability, extra
Corporation and new employment taxes.
FairFuelUK will campaign to see all Government
taxes are DISPLAYED on fuel receipts in detail when filling up at garages and
service stations. Not just VAT, but also all Fuel Duty and the unethical double
taxation of VAT being charged on Fuel Duty itself. Many supporters are also
frustrated and perplexed as to why fuel at the pumps is priced in decimal
points. E.g. 133.9p. In addition a significant proportion of the sign-ups to
the Campaign would like to see more notices of the accuracy of the amount of
fuel delivered at forecourt pumps. All of these FairFuelUK Supporter’s wishes
will be investigated and campaigned for in the next 18 months.
Bring UK petrol and diesel prices to European
Parity in terms of fuel pricing and taxation. The madness of being at the top
of the European and World pump prices and taxation tables has to be stopped.
Believe it or not certain Treasury officials were not even aware of these
sky-high price comparison statistics until we pointed them out. In order to be
genuinely competitive, pump prices need to come down to the EU average and
diesel should be priced lower that petrol to help the UK Road Haulage Industry
flourish. The consequential impact on the UK economy would be colossal. A ‘no
FairFuelUK Supporters actively demand a full
blown independent inquiry into the fuel pricing process and oil price
speculation. Why this market is so obviously unregulated, and so clearly open
to abuse and mismanagement, is one of our greatest economic mysteries. One
thing’s for sure though, if we let these commodity price gamblers carry on
unchecked, we’ll be back to 2008 all over again and the deep dark abyss of
FairFuelUK calls for a massive increase in tax
incentives for the adoption of Greener fuels and technologies. Other countries
notably in the EU incentivise and actively encourage engine conversions to
greener fuels such as LPG autogas and also have significantly extra Greener
fuel driven vehicle sales. Why is the UK so far behind? We have the costliest
fuel and yet we spend little of the huge tax revenue for more environmentally
favoured solutions. We would also like to see the introduction of a permanent
and effective scrappage exchange scheme for environmentally disadvantaged older
FairFuelUK Supporters are calling on the
campaign and its backers to fight for a better deal for the 32m Road Users in
the UK. In the coming months and years, FairFuelUK will remain focussed on
‘driving’ for lower prices at the pumps, whilst also fighting for more of the
£42Bn in Annual Road User tax to be used for better road infrastructure.
The FairFuelUK Campaign Manifesto for Growth 2015 is available for download and viewing at http://www.fairfueluk.com/manifesto/FairFuelUK_manifesto.html
Tuesday, October 21, 2014
Dear Member of Parliament,
With just 6 weeks to the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement, it is a privilege as lead campaigner for FairFuelUK with its founder Howard Cox, to put before you reasons why we’d like your support for a 3p cut in Fuel Duty.
In our ‘2015 Manifesto for Growth’ we set out the evidence, business and public sentiment of the campaign since its launch in January 2011. We know that you are bombarded for reasons to cut different taxes but please take a moment to empathise that the 60%+ taken every time 32m licensed road users fill up with an essential need, is one of biggest influencers on the country’s economic growth prospects, their mobility and residual income.
It is no coincidence following our active lobbying and campaigning, that the decisions made by the Coalition Treasury in cutting this punitive levy by 1p in March 2011 and freezing it for the lifetime of this Parliament has inspired the UK Economy coming out of recession. The previously planned duty rises would have meant that prices at the pumps would have been in excess of £1.60 per litre and we would not be looking at a blossoming economy, where unemployment is falling, GDP growing and inflation dropping. So the evidence is there for you to be reassured that a small cut of 3p will definitely pay the Exchequer back by its consequential impact on other "growth” generated levies, such and more Corporation Tax, VAT, Income Tax, NI and even further escalation in GDP.
The price we pay at the pumps impacts on every aspect of the supply chain, prices in the shops and community cohesion. Its bearing on businesses is immense and for the haulage industry in particular, logistics is the lifeblood of the economy delivering the goods and services needed by individuals and businesses across the UK and beyond. Fuel represents the biggest single cost for most logistics businesses and as they concentrate efforts on securing the recovery, controlling costs is an absolute must. By cutting fuel duty, Government would give businesses the ability and confidence needed to invest for the future bringing benefits to industry, consumers and the wider economy.
We have had fabulous support from ALL Parties, notably from MPs Robert Halfon, Jason McCartney, Martin Vickers, Steve Baker, Tessa Munt, Rob Flello amongst many others too numerous to list here. We are most grateful for this Cross-Party support. However the Government continues to take over 60% in tax when we fill up at the pumps, we have the highest fuel duty levels in the EU and the cost of fuel directly impacts adversely on the cost of living, investment, jobs and running businesses. The Government’s welcome freeze in duty has now to be turned into a cut.
- £42bn+ per year in tax is taken from 32m UK Road Users. Only 18.6% of this Road User Tax goes back into Roads Infrastructure. This represents approx. £30,000 per mile on roads. And here is food for thought, HS2 will cost up to £320m per mile to get to Birmingham just 20 minutes quicker. Imagine how £50-80bn of this predicted capital investment could benefit instead, better public transport and roads for the whole country.
- 26.8% of the £42bn in Road User Tax goes into spending on public transport and the railways (This kills the myth that the motorist and haulier do not support or care about public transport. This hard working group of motorists and commercial drivers has been misguided as to where their tax is actually spent.
- Also in the latest independent ComRes research it is clear that by supporting FairFuelUK's continuing call for a 3p fuel duty cut (7 out of 10 saying it will benefit the economy with 52% of the carless households agreeing with this statement too), all politicians from all Parties will considerably improve their chances of gaining more votes at the General Election. This is an Election issue that will not go away.
Please support our call for cutting Fuel Duty for Growth. You can guarantee this will work.
Quentin Willson and Howard Cox
Monday, October 20, 2014
Sourced from the Financial Times
"As oil prices have tumbled, one question has reverberated
around the market: what is Saudi Arabia up to?
Little restraint has been shown by some energy market
watchers in their commentary on the recent sell-off and the role played by
Opec’s biggest producer. The 25 per cent fall in the price of Brent crude since
mid-June, to almost four-year lows, they say, is the result of a deliberate
strategy by the Gulf nation to test the mettle of rival producers from Russia,
to fellow Opec member Iran and US shale producers.
By refusing to lower production significantly and by cutting
export prices, Saudi Arabia has started a price war that it expects to win
because of its cheaper cost of production and huge foreign exchange reserves.But cooler heads say Saudi Arabia’s recent actions are more
nuanced and a reflection of market realities.
Prices have extended their rout into a fourth month, as high
levels of production from North American shale formations has coincided with
sustained output from Libya and Iraq, despite the bloodshed that has ravaged
both countries. At the same time demand has slowed amid sluggish economic
growth in Europe and Asia, creating a surplus.
With the current market scenario having crept up on Saudi
Arabia, it has had two options: accept a period of lower prices in order to
retain market share. Or, cut production and sacrifice market share in defence
of higher oil prices. It seems to have taken the former.
"For the Saudis, cutting production significantly right now
is suicidal. They are not going to fight such market movements,” says Nat Kern,
president of Foreign Reports, a Washington-based consulting firm. "They could
cut to stabilise the price at $100, but demand is weak, so they could then be
in a position where they would have to cut again and again.”
Higher prices would only encourage more drilling from US shale
groups and other high-cost producers. All the while, they would only continue
to lose market share.
Remarks by Saudi officials to analysts in New York and
London suggest the kingdom can withstand an extended period of lower prices and
may be comfortable at $70 a barrel. This, they hope, will induce demand,
curtail some supply and balance the market.
Already the price of Brent crude has bounced back a little
to about $86 a barrel, from a low of roughy $83 last week. Traders are holding
out for greater Chinese demand to support the price further.
"With prices hovering in the $80 to $90 range, they don’t
feel the need to act,” adds Mr Kern. "But if the price fell a lot lower, to
let’s say $60, then they would look to take action. But they don’t think
they’ll drop that low.”
Sourced from the Financial Times at http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/9ab77884-57cd-11e4-8493-00144feab7de.html#axzz3GarKwRwX