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Spiralling fuel prices could bring UK to a standstill

There really is no let-up for motorists and businesses struggling to make ends meet and still afford fuel. But now it’s set to get even worse, following the announcement that fuel prices have today (Friday 17 December) reached a new record high of 122pence per litre (ppl).

The Fuelcard Company has warned that strike action could ensue because businesses simply can’t sustain such massive increases to the day-to-day running of their businesses.

These crippling rises in oil prices on the world market, which have broken through the $90 a barrel barrier, bring yet more financial misery to the UK’s already hard-pressed fleet industry braced for the new year’s 1p rise in fuel duty and 2.5 percent increase in VAT adding a combined 2.5ppl to fuel.

With the International Energy Agency predicting demand for oil will rise of the next few months, partly due to the cold weather, City analysts believe the price will top $100 a barrel within months. Organisers of the fuel strikes in 2000 have warned similar protest action could be on the cards in 2011.

Jakes de Kock, Marketing Director of The Fuelcard Company, said: “Fleet managers feel let down by a Government who pledged a fuel stabiliser scheme, to protect them by reducing tax if oil prices rose sharply, which has failed to materialise. They feel it’s time they take action into their own hands.”

Now, when you consider what taking action into their own hands meant in September 2000, when fuel protests saw fuel refineries and distribution depots blockaded and a fuel crisis that paralysed the UK’s critical infrastructure bringing the country to a virtual halt, this would mean pretty bad news for the country and economy as a whole.

So instead of strikes which could cost the UK up to £1 billion, like they did in 2000, perhaps it is time for the Government to do its bit and reconsider the introduction of additional fuel duty and identify ways to assist the UK’s hard pressed fleet industry before it’s too late.

We don’t need 2011 to be more difficult than it already is, so fingers-crossed things will change before beleaguered fleets are forced to try and change things themselves.

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