Suffolk: Anger as petrol to rise by 3.5p

MOTORISTS and hauliers will tomorrow be hit with the first of two fuel tax hikes in four days.

The increases, which will add around 3.5p to the cost of a litre of petrol and diesel, are forecast to hurt consumers and businesses.

Fuel price rises have already killed off 10 businesses in Suffolk and Norfolk, according to the Road Haulage Association (RHA).

Peter Butler, Suffolk area manager for RHA, said matters are only likely to get worse with the latest rises hitting members by �12,000 a year per vehicle.

“There’s definitely anger, I wouldn’t be surprised if we see some sort of reaction to it,” he said. “People can’t continue to pay these rises in duty.

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“I’m looking at more people going out of business, they just cannot afford it,” he added. “If they can’t pass it on to the customer, the haulier has to take it on the chin or stop working.”

Tomorrow’s fuel duty rise will add 0.76p to the price of petrol and diesel, before VAT jumps by 2.5% to 20% on January 4.

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The Automobile Association (AA) estimates as a result UK drivers will be spending �12million more a day on petrol than they did this time last year. It says at the end of 2010 a litre of petrol cost on average 123.98p, with diesel at 128.20p. This time last year petrol was 107.74p a litre, while diesel was 109.46p.

Luke Bosdet, a spokesman for the AA, said: “With the tax increases over the next four days, UK drivers will be spending �12m a day more on petrol than they did a year ago.

“That money is being taken out of consumer spending: the high street, restaurants and cinemas. It’s going to have a high impact on family budgets and businesses.”

Stephen Glaister, director of the RAC Foundation, said: “It is a bleak mid-winter for motorists with already record petrol prices set to rise significantly with the fuel duty and VAT increases. And that won’t be the end of it with more increases in fuel duty already scheduled for April.

“Given that each penny increase in fuel duty raises about an extra �500 million for the exchequer, it is easy to see why the chancellor is tempted to hike rates. But if the nation’s 34 million motorists are pushed too far they will drive less and the treasury could actually see their tax take fall.”

The Freight Transport Association (FTA) said tomorrow’s fuel duty rise would leave the freight industry “with a �95 million hangover”.

Simon Chapman, the FTA’s chief economist, added: “Diesel is not an optional extra for industry. It is essential to keep shops stocked and businesses supplied with materials.

“Rises in fuel commodity prices have already left operators facing diesel prices 9p per litre higher than a year ago - adding �3,800 per year to the bill of running an articulated truck. This latest fuel duty increase, together with those previously introduced this year, will add a further �1,200 per year.”

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