Andrew Baxter of Europa Worldwide Group

The freeze in fuel duty until the end of the current parliament will deliver “significant benefits to the British freight industry” according to the MD of one of the UK’s largest haulage firms.

Andrew Baxter, who took a 90% controlling stake in  Europa Worldwide in August, said that duty rises had seen the knock on effect of higher transport costs leading to rising prices further down the line.

“For too long the British freight industry has been unfairly penalised by high fuel costs,” he said “While the recent fuel duty freeze has gone some way towards helping to minimise rising operator costs, this has been against a backdrop of a struggling UK economy – to say the least.

“Now we must hope that the tentative growth of the economy, coupled with the measures announced today, spell a brighter future for the UK haulage industry,” Baxter stressed.

However the trade associations were tempered in their reaction, with the FTA saying that while the freeze equated to savings of some £186m for the industry it was “not enough” to deliver a significant benefit.

FTA chief executive Theo de Pencier said: “We would have liked more, with a cut in fuel prices rather than just a freeze. As with all government announcements the devil is in the detail, and we would have liked the chancellor to commit to making VED stable."

The RHA joined in the FTA’s call for a cut by tweeting: “Of course we welcome the fuel duty freeze - even more welcoming would have been a duty cut. UK hauliers are desperate for a financial boost.”