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ACFO to maintain fuel pressure on HMRC

Date: 11 February 2011

ACFO has vowed to maintain pressure on HMRC after a meeting in which the Treasury refused to review advisory fuel rates and were reluctant to acknowledge that steep increases in fuel prices were not reflected.

ACFO Chairman Julie Jenner said: "It is important for our members to know we are not going to let this go. The costs are too great. We will continue to knock on the door until we get satisfactory answers."

She added: "It is a completely untenable situation that people are expected to live with current AFR rates until June. I'm taking calls on a weekly basis from fleet managers who are having to deal with, understandably, annoyed business drivers."

Jenner met with an HMRC policy adviser last month along with ACFO secretary Steward Whyte and board member John Pryor to highlight a number of topics including AFRs, authorised mileage allowance payments (AMAPs) and BIK stability.

The majority of the meeting highlighted the disparity between actual costs and official fuel reimbursement rates, considering the rising cost of fuel. ACFO attendees asked about the source date on fuel consumptions, the way these are used in the calculations and how fuel cost increases are treated. ACFO said "a wide range of real-life situations were put forward to demonstrate that in many cases the current rates schedule can significantly under-represent the costs met by drivers for their fuel used". ACFO also requested that AFRs were reviewed quarterly to accommodate times of turbulent change such as now, but was told that the administration burden was too onerous.

Since the meeting, ACFO has submitted evidence and its views on how the system could be made more appropriate under the current indications of mid- and long-term fuel cost trends and is awaiting feedback.

Regarding BIK rates, which are yet to be set out after 2013, causing uncertainty for vehicles already on fleet, Jenner is "confident" the Government's March Budget will enlighten the fleet industry on this matter.

Meanwhile, the British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association has urged the Government in the Budget to "deliver on its promises of fairer taxes and less red tape". The BVRLA wants the removal of the 3% diesel supplement in BIK tax, which it says "penalises company car users for selecting the very same diesel vehicles that have the lowest CO2 emissions in their class. Chairman John Lewis said: "This supplement is well past its use-by date - we know it and so does the government."

BVRLA also asks that government to follow Labour's policy of providing a three-year advanced view of company car tax bands by announcing the figures for the financial year 2013/14, echoing ACFO's concerns.

The organisation is also backing the Fair Fuel UK campaign, instigated by the freight industry, which is calling for the government to scrap the fuel duty rise planned for April and introduce a fuel stabiliser.

Late last month, chancellor George Osborne implied that he may bow to pressure on scrapping the fuel duty rise, saying, "we can override it, we are looking at that".

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