FT Brian Madderson Feb 2020

PRA chairman Brian Madderson

PRA chairman Brian Madderson has written to the Chancellor Rishi Sunak calling for an extension to business rates relief and a freeze on fuel duty in the Spring Budget.

Madderson wrote: “Our members have greatly appreciated the business rates relief that has supported the continued operations of ‘essential’ petrol filling stations throughout the pandemic.

“However, now is not the time to scale back vital support. BEIS statistics show that fuel volumes have dropped by up to 50%. The financial stress for independent petrol retailers has been compounded by many having been banned from operating their safe automated self-serve jet washes.

“We welcome the Scottish government’s decision to guarantee a minimum three-month extension to 100% retail, hospitality, leisure and aviation relief in 2021-22 and request the UK government ensures that business rates are consistent across the four nations. To assist recovering businesses the 100% relief should last until restrictions on economic activity are removed, with a gradual reduction to 50% relief for a further six months.”

Madderson also stressed: “We are acutely aware of the strain that the pandemic has placed on public finances. However, with present traffic volumes, a 2 pence per litre rise in fuel duty would only raise £500m per annum. This will serve to curtail economic activity at the margin and disproportionately impact key workers.”

The PRA has suggested enacting an ‘Al Capone initiative’ to recover the estimated £1bn a year lost to the mostly “endemically non-compliant” hand car washes.

From this, the Treasury would be able to establish a significant and long-term revenue stream, which would have the added benefit of combating human trafficking and money laundering.