Ramsay MacDonald, retail director, Certas Energy, is calling on the Chancellor to protect the future of independently owned filling stations and stimulate economic growth by reducing fuel duty by 2ppl in his budget review, next Wednesday 18 March.

Referring to reports suggesting that the Government could take advantage of lower pump prices to increase duty, he said it would be “opportunistic” and “no more than a short-term revenue gain”.

He added: “We urge the Chancellor to make the right decision and cut duty for the benefit of all consumers. Our industry already suffers from tax on tax with fuel retailers currently paying duty of 57.95p on every litre, and that’s before VAT is added.

“We’ve seen the positive impact in recent weeks of lower pump prices and speculation of a duty hike after the election just undermines confidence. A longer-term commitment to reducing fuel duty will allay the fears of consumers and protect the UK’s independent forecourts. We come under criticism to respond more quickly at the pumps when oil prices fall but what is rarely considered is the huge cost of stock in tank for such a low margin business. Anything that the Government can do to reduce this will ultimately benefit motorists.”

He highlighted the pressure on independent filling stations with about 100 filling stations closing each year in the UK, strengthening the hand of the supermarkets and adding 15 miles or more to journey times in some rural areas, putting increased strain on communities and in particular their key services including doctors and midwives.