The Petrol Retailers Association (PRA) is among a group of organisations which have written to the chancellor urging him to scrap plans to hike fuel duty again in April. The letter calls on Alistair Darling to abandon the move to add another 2p per litre to the price at the pumps from April 1, warning it will create “serious difficulties” for forecourt industries and other sectors in the UK.

The letter, co-signed by PRA director Ray Holloway, is co-signed by 11 representatives of key organisations in the transport industry, reads:

“Sir – At 50.35p per litre, UK fuel duty for diesel and petrol is already the highest in Europe. Indeed UK diesel duty is double the EU average rate of 25p per litre. The Chancellor now plans to increase this by 2p per litre from 1 April. Such an increase will generate further serious difficulties for the transport and forecourt industries, business drivers, those dependent on the car, and for businesses or individuals in remote or rural areas with no alternative transport options.

During the last eighteen months the whole of UK industry has experienced increased costs as a consequence of higher oil prices on the world market. At a time when we are suffering from the joint threats of an economic slowdown and increasing inflation, the higher costs of transporting goods and services resulting from price rises for fuel have impacted on every single company throughout the UK, and thus on their customers.

Clearly the Chancellor can have little or no influence on the world price of oil, although he enjoys unbudgeted income when it rises. However, he is responsible for the greater part of the cost of diesel and petrol which is made up of fuel duty and VAT. These taxes constitute almost two-thirds of pump prices – for every £1.05 per litre the Government collects 66p.

In the interests of every company moving goods and their customers, and of the economy in general, we the undersigned call on the Chancellor to recognise these problems and to abandon his plans for a 2p per litre increase in fuel duty from 1 April.’

The letter is signed by representatives from the Freight Transport Association, Road Haulage Association, Automobile Association, British Association of Removers, British Chambers of Commerce, Confederation of Passenger Transport, Federation of Small Businesses, Forum of Private Business, National Farmers Union, Petrol Retailers’ Association and the RAC Foundation.