Chancellor Gordon Brown is under pressure to include concessions for fuel users in his pre-Budget statement today, which could mean things are looking up for truckers.
In an attempt to head off new protests, it is being reported that he could announce that taxes on trucks will be cut in half, saving truckers around $1,430 per vehicle every year.
According to published reports, Brown is scheduled to announce the concession in today’s pre-Budget report. The current tax on Britain's 68,000 38-ton, five-axle rigs is $3,878 per year, but Brown’s plan claims it will drop between $2,289 to $2,432. The costs of discs for 40-ton, five-axle trucks often used for overseas work will drop by $2,861 to around $3,434.
The move will cost the Treasury $429 million, reports said.
Brown plans to make up some of that by introducing a "Brit disc," charging foreign trucks to travel on Britain's roads.
A Treasury spokesman refused to comment on Brown’s report prior to the announcement, but Shadow Cabinet Office Minister Andrew Lansley said that, if true, the proposals would show ministers' policy had been wrong since taking office.
"For two and a half years we have told the Cabinet they have been damaging our haulage industry with their high taxes," Lansley said. "If Gordon Brown offers these concessions now under pressure from fuel protesters, he will just demonstrate that the Government has been wrong for over two years."
Shadow Transport Minister Bernard Jenkin accused the government of "buying off the protests groups with their stealth tax surplus."
Meanwhile, surging oil prices in the U.K. are pumping record profits into oil giant BP Amoco for the fifth successive quarter.
According to Reuters, the U.K.-based oil giant raised its quarterly dividend to 5.25 cents from 5 cents. With an extra contribution from acquisitions, third quarter earnings grew in line with forecasts by 94 percent to $3.796 billion.