Help for small firms struggling with spiralling fuel prices

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With prices at the pump reaching a record high, the Forum of Private Business has joined forces with The Fuelcard Company, one of the UK's largest fuel card resellers, to help small businesses reduce their fuel costs.

When prices at the pumps go up, nearly every business and consumer in the UK suffers. It’s probably no coincidence that the previous record high prices in the summer of 2008 were soon followed by full-blown recession.

With prices at the pump reaching a record high, the Forum of Private Business has joined forces with The Fuelcard Company, one of the UK's largest fuel card resellers, to help small businesses reduce their fuel costs.

The average price of fuel has now reached 119.9 pence per litre, topping the previous high of 119.7 pence reached two years ago. In some areas prices are much higher and analysts have warned that they could reach as much as 150 pence per litre over the summer.

Despite the Government's decision to stagger a planned hike in fuel duty prices the rising cost of fuel is hitting struggling businesses hard, the Forum is warning.

Already, increases in VAT and fuel duty between December 2008 and April 2010 have boosted the Government's fuel tax take by 12.5%. Cost increases on this scale are unsustainable for small businesses at the best of times, let alone in periods of recession.

Following April's 1 pence rise the Forum is calling for the further two increases announced in the Budget - 1 pence in October and 0.76 pence scheduled for next January - to be scrapped.

"High fuel costs affect the entire economy. When prices at the pumps go up, nearly every business and consumer in the UK suffers. It's probably no coincidence that the previous record high prices in the summer of 2008 were soon followed by full-blown recession," said the Forum's Policy Representative, Matt Goodman.

"The only organisations that benefit, it would appear, are multinational oil companies and the Treasury.

"Following a prolonged period of decline, we are at the beginning of a crucial stage in the UK's economic recovery. Small businesses will play a central role in this recovery and must be given a tax environment in which they can thrive. Spiralling fuel duty is jeopardising small business growth and the planned increases should be shelved."

In a survey carried out by the Forum after the 2010 Budget 35% of respondents said the planned increases in National Insurance and fuel duty would hit their profitability.

Earlier research following the 2009 Budget found that 75% of small businesses feared that the planned fuel duty increases would be 'damaging' or 'very damaging' to their businesses.

Support to help small businesses reduce their fuel costs is available from the Forum of Private Business, which is a not-for-profit business support and lobby group.

As an invaluable extension to its members' teams the Forum has developed a range of tailored business solutions to support, protect and reassure small firms throughout the lifecycle of their businesses. These are: 'Finance Director', 'Legal Director', 'HR Director', 'Health and Safety Director', 'Development Director', 'Purchasing Director', 'Communications Director' and 'Managing Director'.

Through the Forum's 'Purchasing Director' solution members can access the Fuel Card Programme provided in conjunction with The Fuelcard Company.

With a choice of eight different fuel cards, which are free to members of the Forum, small businesses can better control their fuel costs and enjoy a range of money-saving benefits, including preferential fuel prices, a consolidated VAT invoice approved by HMRC and freedom from binding contracts.

The Fuelcard Company also provides a complete and free fuel analysis, giving businesses guidance on potential cost savings.

For more information call 0845 612 6266 or visit http://www.fpb.org/fuelcard.

Notes to editors

Although a fuel duty increase planned for April 2008 was postponed, this duty was implemented in December 2008, following the Pre-Budget Report. The cost to business was offset by the decrease in VAT of 2.5%. With duty increases in April 2009 and 2010, and with VAT rising to 17.5% in January 2010, the net increase in fuel duty in the period December 2008 to April 2010 was six pence per litre. Put another way, this equates to a fuel cost increase to motorists and businesses of over 6%, or a rise in fuel duty of 12.5%.

For the full list of services under each solution and/or membership package offered by the Forum, visit http://www.fpb.org/membership or call 0845 612 6266.

Broadcast media - the FPB has ISDN capability and can provide comment, in quality audio, at short notice.

The Forum can also provide journalists with localised and sector-specific case studies.

About the Forum of Private Business

A not-for-profit organisation, the Forum of Private Business provides a personal, friendly and highly tailored service to its members - with the primary purpose of helping them run their businesses more profitably.

Representing thousands of small businesses across the UK - including retail, service providers and manufacturing companies - the Forum is recognised by the Government as one of the six main business support and lobby groups. It uses this position to influence decision-makers in the UK and Brussels on the issues that matter to small businesses. Visit http://www.fpb.org.

The Forum helps owners and managers of small and medium-sized businesses to comply with regulations via its dedicated member helpline, 24-hour legal advice line, and Health and Safety Guide, Employment Guide and Credit Control Guide.

In addition, the Forum's http://www.smallbusinesschannel.co.uk was launched in June 2009, providing a wealth of free video advice and information on a range of topics to business owners and managers.

The Forum is a proud supporter of the Children's Cancer and Leukaemia Group (CCLG): http://www.fpb.org/charity
Media contacts

Phil McCabe
Media and PR Manager
Tel:    01565 626019
ISDN:     01565 654673
Mobile:    07775 756312
Email:    phil.mccabe (at) fpb (dot) org

Chris Gorman
Media and PR Assistant
Tel:    01565 626016
ISDN:    01565 654673
Mobile/out of hours:    07775 756300
Email:    chris.gorman (at) fpb (dot) org

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