MOTORISTS and hauliers in Huddersfield are braced for further increases in fuel costs.
Prices have reached record levels, according to a new survey out today.
And now Chancellor George Osborne is under growing pressure to announce in next week’s Budget that he is scrapping the increase in fuel duty of up to 5p a litre on April 1.
Earlier this month, prices on the M62 at Hartshead Moor reached the £6 a gallon mark and have since risen still further.
Motoring organisation the AA said turmoil in the Middle East and uncertainty about world markets had pushed the price of Brent crude as high as $120 a barrel – leading to increases at the pumps.
The AA’s latest fuel price survey showed that average UK petrol prices rose from 128.81p a litre for unleaded in mid-February to a record 132.88 in mid-March.
Average diesel prices rose from 134.01 to an all-time high of 138.98 during the same period.
In Yorkshire, prices rose by more than 4p a litre from 127.8p to 131.9p for unleaded and by 5p a litre from 133.2p to 138.2p for diesel. The figures do not include motorway service stations.
Chris Stern, of Paddock-based petrol retailer C J Stern (Oils) Ltd, said prices locally now ranged from 129.9p to 133.9p a litre for unleaded and 134p to 140p for diesel.
He said: “We are all waiting for next Wednesday’s Budget. Pressure groups have been making strong representation against another fuel duty increase and there are hopes that it might be deferred or even scrapped.”
Mr Stern said customers could face an increase of up to 5p once the fuel duty increase, an extra 2.5% VAT and the fuel-duty escalator linking increases in the inflation rate were taken into account.
He said: “That would be a very hefty increase and in the current economic crisis it could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.”
Slaithwaite haulage boss Ken Taylor said his business was absorbing higher fuel costs as much as possible – which had resulted in carrying out some work for no profit.
But he said: “I don’t think the public really understand that when fuel prices go up for the haulage industry there can only be one of two results.
“Haulage firms either absorb the increase and eventually go broke or they pass it on and we see the increase reflected in prices on the supermarket shelves.
“It’s in everyone’s interest that fuel prices don’t go up.”
AA president Edmund King said: “Drivers are already contributing 5p a litre more in VAT from petrol and diesel so far this year.
“If this continues, the Treasury will gain an extra £1.25bn over the year and maybe more if stock markets push oil prices higher.
“Drivers are already paying their share towards filling the budget deficit – with some breaking under the strain on their own finances.”