High taxes hit firms’ budgets
May 19, 2009
Rises in fuel and alcohol duty are hitting Wokingham's ailing small businesses in the pocket, local traders say.
Borough pubs and businesses have criticised the increases in tax for impacting on customers and making surviving the difficult financial climate harder for firms.
The budget saw a two per cent increase in alcohol duty and plans were also announced to raise fuel prices by 2p a litre in September.
Neil Ashford, from the Flower Corner in Broad Street, said: “Fuel is a significant cost to my business. Any increase in the current climate is unhelpful.”
Mandi Sussex, from Mandi’s Munchies sandwich delivery and shop, says she resents the fuel duty increase but said it is currently not as bad as last year’s fuel price hike.
“Obviously with five vans on the road it does affect us and we are noticing it.
“Last year we had to put the prices up when fuel went up but we did put them back down again afterwards.
“We can’t survive without our customers and they appreciate us putting them back down.
“Our suppliers put their costs up though, and they didn’t put them back down again.”
The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) carried out a survey of 300 firms, who heavily criticised the Chancellor’s budget, released in April.
Almost 80 per cent of small businesses thought an extra 2p in fuel duty would damage their business by up to £30 per week.
Mary Flavelle, chairman of the East Berkshire branch of the FSB, said: “Small businesses are the engine room of the British economy but they have been choked by the budget with increases in fuel and alcohol duty incurring extra costs and little to help small firms struggling with cash flow.
“This survey shows that the Chancellor’s budget could have gone much further to support small firms create and retain jobs and can survive and grow in these difficult times.”
Debbie Moore, the manager of Fuller’s florist in Denmark Street, was more optimistic about the fuel prices increasing.
She said: “We haven’t put our delivery prices up, we have kept it the same.
“It hasn’t really affected us.”
Meanwhile, the increase in alcohol duty means many pubs have had to put to up their prices.
As a result the Fair Pint Campaign has organised a lobby day at Westminster to put an end to beer ties, where pubs have to pay a premium for beers sold to them by the brewery.
The Bull at Barkham in Barkham Road is a member of the Fair Pint Campaign.
Landlady Susie Brunswick said: “We agree with the campaign but we can’t get anywhere near there on the day because we have to make sure the pub is up and running.”
She said the 2p rise in alcohol duty meant prices have had to rise but drinkers realise it is the Government forcing it on them.
“At the end of the day, it never is us who make the price rise but we have to pay staff, heating and all the profit so of course we have to put the gross profit up.”
John Hibbert, landlord of the Hope and Anchor in Station Road and the Emmbrook Inn in Emmbrook Road, said: “I can’t believe Gordon Brown has put alcohol duty up, he has got a damn cheek.
“I can’t speak for other pubs but it’s a struggle for everyone. If a pub is buying 11 gallons of Fosters, for instance, it would cost £78 but if you are a tied pub, it is about £130.
“My customers aren’t exactly pleased when I then have to put the prices up. I definitely support the Fair Pint lobby day.”