The Government should postpone the fuel duty increase scheduled for October 1, or risk putting undue financial strain on motorists and petrol retailers alike, according to Ray Holloway, director of the RMI Petrol Retailers Association (PRA). The upcoming two-pence-per-litre increase was announced in March as part of the Budget, but deferred until the autumn. Duty has already increased twice in the past ten

months, with increases that coincided with the Pre-Budget Report in December 2006, and with the Budget in March 2007. With both oil prices and interest rates on the rise, the scheduled increase should be deferred indefinitely, stresses Holloway: “A third tax increase in ten months will squeeze the tiny margins that petrol retailers work under further still. We already have less filling stations in the UK than in 1912, and it will not take much to push more stations out of business.”

Holloway adds: “Around 65 per cent of the price at the pump is tax. With oil prices rising, the Treasury will soon receive greater revenues than expected when the increase hits the price at the pump, so the Chancellor will be making more money anyway. Why not allow forecourt traders a little breathing room, so they can stay in business?”