LONDON, November 23 /PRNewswire/ -- Combine this with the re-establishment of the 17% VAT rate on 1 January and things will be looking very gloomy indeed; for the economy as a whole and for essential users of fuel in particular.

Those who have always had the luxury of buying their fuel more cheaply at supermarkets will be looking elsewhere with Tesco, Sainsbury and Asda all increasing their prices above those of Shell and Esso; in some areas by more than 5 pence per litre in just four weeks.

These constant rises can neither be sustained nor justified, said RHA Chief Executive Geoff Dunning.

Last month we saw the barrel price fall following concerns that a slowdown in the global economy would dent demand. Today, we are seeing oil tankers anchored off our coastline playing a waiting game. They will unload their cargo only when the price of crude begins to rise.

This seems to be an absolutely ridiculous situation, bearing in mind the last time the price of diesel was this high, the price of a barrel stood $20 dollars higher than it is today.

If the UK is to stand any chance of seeing signs of an economic recovery in the near future we need to see action NOW. To that end the haulage industry must do all it can to at least postpone the fuel duty increase planned for Spring 2010. UK road hauliers are already operating within the tightest possible margins, they desperately need to be cut some slack.

Fuel duty increases affect every single member of society. The food we eat, the clothes we wear and the materials for the homes we live in arrive by truck. Not only will any increase in fuel duty at this critical time come as a severe blow to this vital industry, the inevitable knock on effect will be to hit already hard-pressed families even harder.

It seems that there can only be one Christmas message this year. To Government and the oil companies we say whose side are you on?

Road Haulage Association - phone us first

SOURCE: Road Haulage Association

CONTACT: For more details, contact RHA Head of Media Relations, Kate Gibbson: Tel: +44(0)1932-838917, Mob: +44(0)7979-531451,