Responding to the announcement that the price per litre of petrol (£1.21) and diesel (£1.24) are at their highest since December 2014, Wilfred Mitchell, Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) NI Policy Chair, said:
“The proportion of our members reporting a rise in operating costs is at its highest in five years. Almost a third say fuel prices are a main cause of that increase, up from less than a fifth at this time last year.
“Affordable travel on roads is absolutely vital to the success of small businesses and local economies, especially in rural areas. That’s why it’s critical that the fuel duty freeze set out in the Autumn Budget is continued in future.
“Given that Northern Ireland is comparatively more rural than other parts of the UK, higher fuel costs can be particularly detrimental to local businesses.
“Over the coming year, we look forward to the Government doing its upmost to help small firms battle the rapid rise in operating costs. Where vehicles are concerned, that also means taking a hard look at the ever-increasing Insurance Premium Tax (IPT).
“Diesel vehicle owners are set to be hit with significant additional costs once forthcoming Clean Air Zones are in place. We need to see the Government step up support for the many small firms looking to play their part in improving air quality by switching to cleaner vehicles.”