Aggregate Industries (AI) has defended its decision to apply a rate increase only to its franchise hauliers after the move was criticised by an external haulage contractor.

In a letter to hauliers in the company’s northern region, AI said it had chosen to “only apply an increase to the franchise vehicles as recognition of the ever increasing safety specification, engagement and investment required by the franchise agreement".

From 1 January it will apply a minimum inflationary increase to mileage rates of 2.71%.

In addition, a 44-tonne non tipping trailer will attract a mileage rate increase of 5.46% and a 26-tonne 6-wheeler insulated tipper vehicle will receive an increase of 4.13%.

The letter added: “We have benchmarked the historic rate structures specifically for Height & Hulands [quarries] and will be applying an additional 5% to the franchise mileage rates.

“This results in a total mileage rate increase of 7.71% for these depots.”

Aggregate Industries said that it recognised the decision would be “a disappointment” to non-franchise firms but that it was necessary to reflect the differing standards in its fleet.

But one non-franchised haulier told Motor Transport the move penalised them as it was having to fit the same safety equipment as franchisees: “It’s frustrating we are not being properly rewarded,” he said. “We have got to jump through the same hoops as franchise hauliers with things like FORS accreditation, but non-franchised hauliers get no financial benefit.”

However, Ben Young, AI head of road logistics, said non-franchise vehicles did not have to have as high a spec: “At Aggregate Industries we value our hauliers and always strive to provide our customers with a first class service,” he said.

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“This is why we annually review our contracts, making sure we have the right partnerships in place that are mutually beneficial for all parties.

“In addition to the 2019 inflationary rate increase which was applied to all hauliers, we can confirm that the northern franchise hauliers will be receiving another rate increase from January 2020.

“We will be reviewing further regional increases in early 2020.”

Young added: “As part of our approach to health and safety, we require all of our franchise hauliers to be FORS accredited and we work with them to achieve this.

“We also require our franchise hauliers to adhere to our own safety standards, for example additional 360 degree cameras, vision door window and side scan equipment, which significantly increases vehicle costs.

“This is not a requirement for non-franchise vehicles.”