Procurement · 23 November 2016

Autumn Statement 2016: Fuel duty frozen for seventh year

Fuel duty
Businesses reliant on cars and vans will not see a surge in fuel costs

Britain’s travelling small business owners are celebrating after chancellor Philip Hammond revealed that fuel duty would be frozen for a seventh year running.

Announced during the Autumn Statement 2016 speech, the expected savings equate to £130 a year for car drivers and £350 for van drivers – at a cost of £850m to government.

The policy was one of the surprise packages of the Autumn Statement, with fuel duty previously set for an increase in 2017. Fuel duty will now remain at 57.95p per litre – the price set at the March 2011 Budget. Hammond said this meant that “the current freeze is the longest for 40 years”.

Hannah Maundrell, from comparison site money.co.uk, commented: “The chancellor simply couldn’t let the fuel duty hike go ahead when the price we pay at the pump is already yoyo-ing in response to the fluctuating sterling/dollar exchange rate. Keeping fuel prices low will help stop inflation soaring so it’s in the government’s interest as much as ours.”

A poll taken ahead of the Autumn Statement by consultancy firm Lansons assessed the policy priorities of small business owners, and found that a consecutive freeze on fuel duty was the most important issue for 22 per cent of respondents.

In response to the continued freeze of fuel duty, a spokesperson from insurer NFU Mutual stated that the benefits would be most felt by small UK businesses that “depend on transportation to make money”.

“The news should help to ease uncertainty for people and businesses concerning rising costs from increased inflation, and support UK commerce in line with the chancellor’s commitment to invest in the country’s productivity,” a spokesperson said.

Further positive signals were sent to self-employed and freelance workers who rely on Britain’s roads to access clients, as the chancellor revealed planned investment worth £1.1bn for English local networks.

Quentin Willson, TV motoring journalist and broadcaster and lead campaigner for FairFuelUK, said: ““I’m disappointed that the chancellor didn’t instantly put money into everyone’s pockets by cutting duty. There’s an immediate benefit to the economy. I’m surprised too given the CEBR has said cutting duty by 3p wouldn’t change net tax receipts. This is a lost opportunity from a government still afraid of supporting drivers and roads.”

Neil Bishop is a business owner who relies on the consistent price of fuel. The chairman of Bishop’s Move, the a family-owned removals company, told us: “Whilst we recognise that in the current economic climate we were unlikely to see a cut in fuel duty, we continue to support an ongoing freeze.

“This is a welcome relief for industries such as ours which rely on the roads to operate. It is beneficial to the economy, as well as popular with motorists, that the chancellor quickly makes his mark by extending the freeze on duty for a seventh year. Low fuel prices not only benefit businesses and families but, can also increase business investment, resulting in lower production costs and improving household spending across the UK.”

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Hunter Ruthven is the editor of Business Advice. He is also the editor of Real Business, the UK's most-read website for entrepreneurs and business leaders at the helm of growing SMEs. Alongside this, he is part of the team that hosts the Growing Business Awards, First Women Awards and Future 50 initiative. Prior to his role at Real Business, he was editor at competitor website Growth Business and head reporter at M&A Deals. Throughout his career he has interviewed leading entrepreneurs including Alex Chesterman, Lopo Champalimaud, Sarah Wood, James Averdeick and Alex Saint.

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