THE boss of a North East travel company has called on the Government to act to help coach operators as fuel prices have continued to rise.
Andrew Scott, director of Stanley Travel, has told The Northern Echo of the huge impact increasing fuel prices are having on his business and called for ministers to change how coach operators are charged for fuel duty.
The Stanley-based company was forced to fork out £2,800 more for fuel this week compared to last, as prices at the pumps rocketed.
Mr Scott told the Echo: “Just to continue what we’re doing we’ve had to pay another £2,800 this week compared to last.
“We’re facing a kick in the backside of 21p per litre in just a week.
“We paid 155p per litre for fuel yesterday on 14,000 litres. Just last week we paid 134p per litre.”
He also called on Chancellor Rishi Sunak to change tax rules to allow coach operators to claim back fuel duty for essential work such as school transport and rail replacement services.
The change would bring them in line with rules for bus operators who can claim back fuel duty.
Mr Scott added: “The Government should allow coach operators to claim back fuel duty on essential journeys such as school transport and rail replacement coaches, as they allow bus operators to.
“I’d be lying if I said we are making no money, but we are operating on very small margins that are nowhere near where they should be to recover from a pandemic.
“If we could get some relief on tax per litre of fuel it would get us to where we should be in terms of profit.
“If nothing is going to change, we will have to completely renegotiate contracts with our customers.
“A lot of school contracts were negotiated in 2017. They were meant to be three-year contracts but were extended when the pandemic hit, so we’re operating on deals from five years ago when diesel was nowhere near as expensive.”
The average price per litre of fuel for drivers hit 183.16p for unleaded and 188.82p for diesel on Thursday (June 9) as the Chancellor faced calls to help with tax relief.
BP at Washington Services on the A1(M) was branded ‘disgraceful’ by one motorist as prices hit the £2 per litre mark on Tuesday (June 7).
Rhiannon Bearne, Policy and Representation Director at the North East England Chamber of Commerce said: “The further rise in fuel this week is just another economic headwind facing businesses right now.
“Whilst the Chancellor was right to protect families and households first from the cost of living rises, support for business must now follow.
“Our members are reporting rising costs across the board – from overall inflation, raw materials, and, of course, fuel and energy price increases.
“We’re backing the British Chambers of Commerce call on Government to reduce VAT to 5% on businesses’ energy bills. This simple change would make a big difference to businesses in the North East right now, as well as helping to reduce inflationary pressure overall.”
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