Courier drivers face many problems, but the rising cost of fuel is a recurring issue causing knock-on effects year after year. Due to the ever-increasing prices, some delivery companies are forced to make drastic changes, resulting in drivers being out of jobs and slower advancements when it comes to technology and new vehicles. |
With newer, greener vans being manufactured with the environment in mind, courier drivers and fleet operators are being encouraged to upgrade their vehicles. However, for many companies this is just not possible. In March 2019, a study from FairFuelUK (FFUK) revealed that 52% of 17,231 respondents admitted that the rise in petrol and diesel costs had influenced their decision to keep their current commercial vehicle for the next 12 months.
A further 19% of participants said that the prices forced them to freeze driver recruitment, and a shocking 9% admitted to having reduced their staff numbers significantly. For young, aspiring transport workers, this is far from encouraging.
A Cry for Help
Following the study, both FFUK and the Freight Transport Association (FTA) called on the Labour Party to re-evaluate the negative effects of rising fuel costs for the transport industry and general trading.
Head of UK policy for FTA, Christopher Snelling, stated that “it is of vital importance that Andy McDonald, the shadow chancellor, understands how linked the rate of fuel duty is to the performance of the economy”. He went on to say that “increasing fuel duty directly adds to the cost of doing business in the UK”. Snelling also argued that certain industry issues were made perfectly clear in the FFUK study, and that going through with the new fuel prices “would only exasperate this”.
Considering the Environment
For the past few years, courier drivers and fleet managers have been encouraged by the government to consider the environment, whether that’s through safer driving, newer vehicles or other energy saving solutions. However, with higher fuel prices, some companies have faced struggles when switching to more environmentally friendly vehicles – they simply haven’t had the budget for it.
Snelling added to his statement: “[The government] should instead focus on how to make these options a viable solution to transporting the millions of tonnes of goods Britain needs delivered every day.”
What Happened to Woodall?
For the Woodall Group, the high fuel costs were the final push, and the business went into administration in February this year. It goes to show how quickly a small increase in prices can affect such a large company.
To avoid the same fate as the Woodall Group, courier drivers need to be aware of even the slightest price changes to stay on top of things. Although some may seem small, they can quickly build up into a large loss, especially for larger fleets of vehicles.
There is some hope that the government will reconsider this fuel duty change, but if not, all courier drivers can do is make sure they are educated, informed and prepared for future fluctuations.
Norman Dulwich is a correspondent for Courier Exchange, the world's largest neutral trading hub for same day courier drivers in the express freight exchange industry. Numerous transport exchange businesses are networked together on their website, trading jobs and capacity through what is now the fastest growing Freight Exchange in the UK.
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