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Government is listening says forwarding chief

The British International Freight Association (BIFA) says that there is some evidence that the UK Government is listening to the advice it is getting from the UK’s logistics sector.

Today’s announcement that a new “secure zone” is being created at Calais for lorries in a fresh bid to tackle the migrant crisis at the French port town, is very welcome says BIFA’s director general, Robert Keen.

“Only a month ago, we called for some additional action from the authorities in France and the UK to step up their protection of the routes across the Channel and fulfil their obligations to let trade move unhindered before serious damage is done to this strategic freight route.

“If the new secure zone helps to protect hauliers, it is great news for our members that are engaged in cross channel trade.”

Keen added that the trade association for UK forwarders was also quite pleased by some of the measures announced in the Chancellor’s Emergency Budget last week.

“The freeze in fuel duty is welcome news, but it doesn’t mean that we will stop asking for an outright cut, the introduction of an essential user rebate and some form of fuel duty stabilisation mechanism.”

Recently BIFA called for action on the poor state of the UK’s road infrastructure and Keen believes that the Chancellor’s announcement that road tax (VED) income will be "ring fenced" provides some clarity about where funding for the ambitious road projects will be found.

 “But we also believe that income collected from fuel duty should be reinvested in roads and transport infrastructure in line with the Chancellor’s statement that money raised from drivers should be spent on the roads on which they drive.”

On the flip-side, Keen was disappointed that the budget did not include any financial measures to support the UK’s road haulage industry to recruit and train truck drivers.

The increase in the minimum wage is also a doubled-edged sword, says Keen. “Of course we support an increased minimum wage for workers and their families, but it will squeeze many of the SMEs that make up the bulk of BIFA’s membership, which operate in the low-margin freight forwarding sector.

“Combined with ever-increasing operational costs and increasing legislation, it’s a tough measure for companies in a sector that underpins this country’s economy.”

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