By Daniel Hunter

Britain’s small firms could face a rise of up to £4,000 in their annual fuel bills if the planned 3p rise in fuel duty is confirmed in the forthcoming Budget.

New figures from Lex Autolease, the UK’s largest fleet management provider, show that an small to medium sized enterprise (SME) business running a fleet of 20 transit vans will see its fuel costs leap by more than £300 per month if George Osborne ratifies plans to raise fuel duty in September.

The figures are based upon Lex Autolease’s average fleet size for an SME business, with each van typically covering 30,000 miles per year.

With more than 80 per cent of small firms relying on vehicles for their work*, any rise in fuel duty would put more pressure on the nation’s hard pressed firms

“Small businesses throughout the country rely upon their vehicles to carry out their day to day activities," Chris Chandler, Principal Consultant at Lex Autolease, said.

“A three pence rise in fuel duty would deliver a significant blow to small businesses, many of which are already facing challenging economic conditions and rising costs.

“While it is important to keep an eye on the prices at the pump, companies need to focus on factors that they can control in order to minimise costs and offset the rise in fuel duty, such as carefully monitoring driver behaviour.

“Fleet operators must take proactive steps to ensure that drivers are given fuel efficient vehicles, are taught how to drive them efficiently, and plan their routes effectively. Fuel efficient driving techniques will not only reduce fuel costs but will also increase safety and lower maintenance and repair costs.”

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