The Chancellor has confirmed during his lunchtime Budget that plans to increase the cost per litre of petrol and diesel will be scrapped until at least September 2014.
In what will be a significant relief for many small business owners reliant on a sizeable fleet, the previously planned three pence increase for September 2013 has been shelved following sustained pressure from motoring groups and backbench Conservative MPs.
Within his statement, Mr Osborne revealed the freeze of fuel duty would mean a saving of £7 per fill-up for a driver of a Vauxhall Astra or Ford Focus.
The AA welcomed the news with relief as opposed to joy, noting that had January’s previously scheduled three pence increase gone ahead, it would have propelled the UK average petrol price far beyond the existing record price of 142.48p.
Edmund King, president of the AA, said: "A September fuel duty hike would have been the last straw likely to break UK drivers’ budgets and would have led to a summer of discontent.
"The freeze is a pragmatic move and will bring some relief at the pumps."
Meanwhile, Chris Chandler, principal consultant at Lex Autolease, believes the scrapping of fuel duty increases will be music to the ears of small business owners, but warned that fleet operators need to remain prudent.
"Scrapping the planned rise in fuel duty is welcome news for businesses, many of which rely on a fleet of vehicles to trade, and help keep Britain’s economy moving," he said.
"However, managing costs will continue to be a significant challenge for fleet managers, who should not forget the importance of fuel efficiency and monitoring driver behaviour."
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