Gridlock costs UK businesses £18K a year

Nov 21 2006 by Nic Paton Print This Article

Congestion on Britain's roads is now so bad that nearly nine out of 10 UK businesses say they would support road pricing, where vehicles are charged by the mile, even though it would be a burden on their bottom line, if it got them moving again.

A survey of businesses by the British Chambers of Commerce found that almost nine out of 10 businesses supported road pricing in principle Ė once something felt to be unthinkable Ė with congestion and transport issues costing the average business £18,000 a year.

More than eight out of 10 firms polled said travelling by road was essential to their business operations and a similar proportion said that problems with road congestion that affected their business locally.

The main reason businesses cited for the congestion on local roads, 'A' roads and the motorway network was the sheer volume of traffic.

Roadworks were the next biggest cause of problems, followed by poor road design and planning.

If road pricing was introduced, however, businesses made it clear they wanted something in return - either a reduction in the price of road tax and or duty on fuel, or that any money brought in is ring-fenced and put back into transport improvements.

More than eight out of 10 firms said congestion was adding to their operating costs and that they lost man hours as a result.

David Frost, director general of the British Chambers of Commerce, said: "Congestion has reached such a level in the UK that business is willing to consider road pricing, something unthinkable just a short while ago.

"The road network is still the most important for business yet the overwhelming majority say that road congestion is stifling their business," he added.

"These results should not be seen however as an excuse to charge with one hand and still keep taking with the other," he continued.

"If road pricing is to be introduced there must be reductions for business in road tax and fuel duty. There must also be a guarantee that the additional money raised be not just put into the general transport pot but be spent on improving the road network and public transport," he concluded.