AGGREGATE Industries (AI) has defended its decision to apply a rate increase only to its franchise hauliers after the move was criticised by an external haulage contractor, writes Chris Tindall.

In a letter to hauliers in the company’s northern region, AI said it had chosen to ‘only apply an increase to the franchise vehicles as recognition of the ever increasing safety specification, engagement and investment required by the franchise agreement’.

AI said it recognised the decision would be ‘a disappointment’ to non-franchise firms, but that it was necessary to reflect the differing standards in its fleet. One non-franchised haulier said the move penalised them as it was having to fit the same safety equipment as franchisees: ‘It’s frustrating we are not being properly rewarded,’ he said. ‘We have got to jump through the same hoops as franchise hauliers with things like FORS accreditation, but non-franchised hauliers get no financial benefit.’

From 1 January AI applied a minimum inflationary increase to mileage rates of 2.71%. In addition, a 44 tonne non-tipping trailer will attract a mileage rate increase of 5.46% and a 26 tonne six wheeler insulated tipper vehicle will receive an increase of 4.13%.

However, Ben Young, AI head of road logistics, said non-franchise vehicles did not have to have as high a spec, and added: ‘We require our franchise hauliers to adhere to our own safety standards, for example additional 360° cameras, vision door window and side scan equipment, which significantly increases vehicle costs. This is not a requirement for non-franchise vehicles.’