Chancellor puts off fuel tax hike

A 3p hike in fuel duty will be deferred from January to August, Chancellor George Osborne has announced in his autumn statement. 

The government has also cancelled a planned 2p inflationary hike on fuel in August. 

The Chancellor confirmed that a one-year holiday on business rates for small businesses, which had been due to expire in October 2012, would be extended for a further six months.

He said 500,000 companies would benefit from the tax break, with 330,000 not paying any business rates in 2012-13 – and a third of shops not paying business rates until April 2013.

Phil Orford, chief executive of not-for-profit small business body the Forum of Private Business, commented: “We have seen some tentative steps towards easing fuel duty and business rates, but we need to go much further and introduce real tax reforms in order to help them to grow and create jobs.

“The government is extending the rate relief holiday by six months and allowing businesses to defer 60% of the RPI-linked business rate increase in 2012-13. This will help but it is not the freeze we asked for.

“Further, scrapping January’s 3p fuel duty rise completely and reducing the increase scheduled for August is good news but we wanted all fuel duty increases scheduled for 2012 to be postponed.”

The government revised its economic growth forecast down to 0.9 per cent for 2011 and 0.7 per cent in 2012, with a slower recovery from then on.

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