The PRA has welcomed the Chancellor’s announcement in his Autumn Spending Review that police budgets would be maintained.
With forecourt crime costing an estimated £40m a year, petrol retailers across England and Wales have been threatened by cash-strapped police authorities that they might refuse to investigate ‘drive-offs’ and other forecourt crimes if budget cuts were implemented.
PRA chairman Brian Madderson said: “The PRA welcomes the announcement of the maintenance of police budgets, following news that the Home Office recently established a Forecourt Crime Senior Steering Group with funding for at least 12 months.
“Forecourt crimes are most often committed by regular offenders, leading on to major theft and violence.
“Next week we are meeting with The Rt Hon Mike Penning MP, Minister of Crime and Policing to discuss measures that will significantly address this issue and now there will be a more positive approach.
“We look to real support from police authorities to eradicate this problem and our retailers will work positively with police through their forecourt CCTV systems to provide a real insight on serious criminal activity.
“The PRA believes that this should be a win – win situation both the police and retailers.”
Suggestions the chancellor might attempt to take advantage of low fuel prices by increasing duty also proved groundless.
The Treasury confirmed to the PRA that fuel duty will remain at 57.95ppl on both grades until 31 March 2016 as announced in the Spring Budget.
Madderson commented: “This is reassuring for motorists and businesses that are leading our economic revival. Road fuel volumes increased by over 1.1% for the first half of 2015 compared to last year, and so the Chancellor is obtaining extra revenue of £300m a year to help with funding in other areas.
“The Treasury monitors fuel taxation, usage and duty levels on a regular basis so we have to wait until next year’s Spring Budget for the next announcement on duty.”
The ACS reacted positively to the Chancellor’s extension of small business rate relief but raised concerns about business rates devolution and the lack of detail on overall rate reform
ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “We welcome the Chancellor’s commitment to extending small business rate relief in 2016; this is a measure that helps businesses to the tune of over £1bn each year and is essential in giving local shops the opportunity to invest in their staff, property and services.
“We are however disappointed that no announcement has been made on the continuation of the business rates discount of £1,500 for high street retailers. We argued for the Government to increase this discount and if the Chancellor scraps it, it will hurt businesses coming to terms with increased wage costs and uncertain rates bills.
"We still have significant concerns about the devolution of rate setting powers to local authorities, given how little existing discretionary rate relief setting powers have been used to support businesses.
“We’ll have to wait for the Budget in 2016 for more details on the Government’s review of business rates. Businesses need certainty to be able to effectively plan for the future, and we urge the Chancellor to consult with businesses now as he develops these proposals.”