Fuel duty ‘holiday’ urged to help smaller garages survive

Fuel duty ‘holiday’ urged to help smaller garages survive

A summit with Mr Fallon, tax chiefs and MPs took place in October and a further meeting is due shortly. Some 1,000 forecourts have closed over the past five years, with just 9,000 left in the UK, compared with 37,500 in 1970. Almost all new sites given planning permission in the UK are supermarket petrol stations.

But some independents lost thousands. They have to pay duty upfront, and if petrol prices fall they lose out. Who’s going to give them that back?”

Brian Madderson, PRA chairman, said allowing independents the right to 28 days “deferment” would be a “game- changer” that would allow sites to survive. He added they would also be able to pass on price cuts far more quickly.

He said tax experts had found a loophole in the regulations that allows those independents who apply to delay the duty payments. But industry is worried that HMRC will soon close this down.

Mr Madderson said: “It’s quite clear that our ability as a country to have forecourts all over the country is becoming challenged because of the number of independents that are closing.

“One of the main reasons is the onerous requirement to have to pay duty more or less as [fuel] is delivered. The oil companies, which have more money than possibly anyone else, have 28 days’ duty deferment on their side. How is that equitable?

“Changing this would allow my members far more financial freedom.”

Motoring chiefs believe the change would assist fuel sellers, but are worried about whether drivers would benefit.

One source said: “Our support would give the retailers considerable weight. However, our fear is that savings would simply go into the retailers’ pockets.”

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