Diesel prices are causing great strife for operators that cannot hedge supplies. Some increases can be recovered via rates or fares, but others cannot. One business reports that despite a local authority having promised in March to examine a contract fuel surcharge, nothing had happened by early June.
Most worrying is the absence of any stability, let alone meaningful falls. A fuel card provider recently warned of a 10ppl rise on weekly figures. Trade body RHA has also cautioned that further increases are likely thanks to multiple global factors, including moves to reduce reliance on Russian oil.
These pressures have significant potential to stall the industry’s recovery from COVID-19. Forgotten by the Treasury in its unwavering focus on cost at the expense of value is how a healthy coach and bus sector is critical to achieving climate change targets.
No. 11 also steadfastly ignores the wider benefits to UK PLC that the industry delivers, from an owner-driver to the largest bus group: Spending on the high street and in leisure and tourism, access to jobs and education, and vast air quality positives. It is bizarre that Rishi Sunak fails to recognise and act upon any of that.
Even operators that have hedged their fuel will eventually feel the pain of rising diesel prices. Calls for an essential user rebate or a contract fuel price escalator are not those of the greedy. No, they instead seek to stabilise a wounded but recovering industry that when in full health does a great deal of good.
Over to you, Chancellor.