Higher prices for goods and services resulting from the effects of rush-hour congestion on business are costing every UK household around £100 a year, a new report from the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) has suggested.

The report found sitting in congestion was costing the UK’s commuting households around £456 apiece or a combined total of £3.9bn a year, taking both direct and indirect costs into account. The direct costs – essentially additional fuel and lost time – accounted for £356 per commuting household and £2.9bn overall; the indirect costs - which include the higher freight costs imposed on businesses by congestion and subsequently passed on to consumers – were calculated at £100 per household (both commuting and non-commuting) and just over £1bn overall.

Produced for traffic information provider Inrix, the CEBR calculations are based purely on congestion experienced during the morning (7-9am) and evening (4-7pm) peaks and assume an average commuter fuel consumption rate when idling of 0.5 litres/hour.

The costs of congestion are clearly much worse for freight vehicles than regular commuters as they operate over longer hours and consume more fuel, pointed out Jack Semple, director of policy at the RHA, in reaction to the report. Truck operators also face the “hidden cost” of potential disruption to delivery schedules, he stressed.

Malcolm Bingham, head of road network management policy at the FTA, said that the real issue for freight vehicle operators was not so much congestion itself as journey reliability, which he described as “a massive problem for the industry”.

Both agreed that the government could be doing more to tackle congestion. Bingham said the FTA would like to see more managed motorways with hard shoulder running, where appropriate, and more road widening elsewhere; Semple highlighted the need for further improvements to accident clearance times on the major road network, among other measures.

The recent road infrastructure projects announced by the Chancellor in his Autumn Statement were very welcome, said Semple, but with congestion on the rise again after a slight drop in vehicle activity due to the recession over the last couple of years, more could be being done, he said. “We’re seeing more attention to it and they’re taking the issue seriously but obviously, we still have a long way to go,” he commented.

The obvious ‘missing link’ in the recent road infrastructure announcements, meanwhile, was an A14 upgrade, added Bingham. “There is some awareness with this government, there is a priority to improve road infrastructure, which is welcome - but we still need some more commitment,” he said.