LABOUR could bankrupt the UK haulage industry and spark chaos for consumers by inflating the cost of food, if a planned £6billion stealth tax on lorries is realised, say campaigners.
They claim lorry taxes would rise by £12,096 a year per truck if the Shadow Minister for the Treasury, Clive Lewis’, plans came into effect. Mr Lewis has said a Labour Government with John McDonnell in No11 would review the “entire spread of environmental taxes and tax reliefs”. He wants Ministers to have powers to amend Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) in order to use tax increases as an incentive to reduce pollution.
The Road Haulage Association has warned the stealth tax risks crippling the country’s 496,000-strong haulage industry, which moves 98 percent of all goods consumed in the UK.
Mr Burnett added: “Clive Lewis, sees our industry as the bad guys – the emission bandits.
“Nothing could be further from the truth. What is even more shocking is the cavalier approach of Mr Lewis, who is content to ‘see HGV businesses go out of business’ as a direct consequence of this tax hike.”
Defending the plan at the Commons Finance Bill Committee, Mr Lewis said: “No one wants to see HGV businesses go out of business, but everyone in Committee would agree that it is right for people to pay the appropriate level of tax.
“Research suggests that HGVs are paying for only 11 percent of their UK road infrastructure costs, predicting a shortfall of about £6billion.”
He added that “no one wants to see HGV businesses go out of business” but “it is right for people to pay the appropriate level of tax”.
Mr Lewis further cited a report by the Campaign For Better Transport charity that suggests HGVs should pay £6 billion more in taxes which would result in £12,096.77 more tax for each truck operated domestically.
But Richard Burnett, chief executive of the Road Haulage Association, said: “Britain’s hauliers already pay some of the highest taxes in Europe”.
He argued Mr Lewis’ comments were “naive” and “beyond belief”.
Tory MP Simon Hoare MP said the planned truckers tax would bring “Britain’s crucial haulage industry on its knees”.
He added: “It would also lead to a massive rise in the costs of basic goods at the supermarket for hardworking families.”
A Labour spokesman said: “The real threat to hauliers is this Tory Government and their failure to secure a Brexit deal.
“Reports there will be just 1,200 (EU) permits to share between 75,000 British lorries after Brexit is concerning.”