Brown said the government would ensure that UK haulage was no worse off if new charges are introduced, but stated any additional costs would have to be offset through reductions in other taxes.
This could lead to additional red-tape – at a time when he is committed to cutting the burdens in other areas of business.
The two possible options for consideration are time-based and distance-based charging.
Experts believe the introduction of a possible credit system cannot be ruled out, which in turn may create problems in terms of how the new tax may affect working practice, while cashflow disadvantages may also be created.
The haulage industry is looking for cash savings, but the government has instead promised neutrality between UK and overseas hauliers.
Alastair Kendrick, director at Ernst & Young, said: ‘There are concerns that this will create significant administration costs for haulage companies, whilst giving no underlying savings. The question is, does this satisfy haulage companies which have been looking for cuts in duty so that they can compete with overseas companies?’
Roger King, Road Haulage Association chief executive, added: ‘This is a step in the right direction, but there is a long way to go. We will consult widely with our members, but this does bring overseas hauliers more in line with us.’
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