fuel is the word that’s been on everyone’s lips recently – but when it came out of George Osborne’s mouth, it came as something of a surprise.
For the Chancellor not only stopped tax rises on petrol for the next 12 months, he cut a penny of the rate we are paying now.
It may not be a lot when we’re looking at more than £1.40 per litre - but it’s better than the potential 5p rise previously planned.
Business leaders across town have welcomed the move.
The reduction – and promise of no more rises – has proved music to the ears of many traders in town.
Claire Smith, (above), president of StayBlackpool, said: “I must say I was absolutely surprised by this. It’s a really big thing for us – it helps everybody. It helps our customers, it helps us and it helps our suppliers keep their delivery costs down.
“The Corporation Tax reduction and stay on Business Rates are also helping.
“There was nothing terrible in the budget for us at all.”
Her sentiments were echoed by Blackpool-based Hugh Evans, deputy chief executive in the Lancashire Chamber of Trade.
He said: “There are some real pro-enterprise moves in this budget which businesses will commend.
“Reducing Corporation Tax rates by two per cent this year is a measure of real substance.
“We also welcome the Government’s desire to speed up tax simplification, and to remove the much-disliked 50p top rate of income tax.
“Smaller companies across the Fylde Coast will take heart from the Chancellor’s moves to cut fuel duty, maintain business rate reliefs for an additional year, and to exempt businesses with fewer than ten employees from new regulations.
And Steve Pye (pictured) of the Federation of Small Businesses said: “The introduction of a limited form of fuel duty stabiliser is welcomed – it’s something the FSB has been calling for. The unpredictable nature of fuel prices damages growth for businesses across the UK, with a recent FSB survey showing 62 per cent of businesses are increasing prices, one in 10 laying off staff, a quarter freezing wages and 36 per cent reducing investment.”
Petrol station owners gave the fuel duty cut a mixed reaction.
Chris Goodwin, of Cuncliffe’s New Road Garage in Central Drive, Blackpool, said cutting fuel duty by 1p a litre would not make a difference.
He added: “It’s not really going to help us, no-one is going to see the benefit because it is not going to enable us to drop our petrol prices. Apparently we’ll save £100 a year but unless the Government put £100 in our wage packet it won’t make any difference to anyone.
“It’s the fuel duty which is being cut and it’s the petrol stations buying the fuel, not the customer, so they moght not get the difference.”
And Steve Schofield, manager of Anchorsholme Service Station, in Fleetwood Road, Thornton, said cutting fuel duty was better than the alternative.
He added: “It was supposed to go up by 5p so cutting it by a penny is better than that definitely - we have just put our price down.
“My only concern is it won’t last long because the Government is trying to get the oil companies to pay for it by increasing tax .”