Retailers: 'Give fuel rebate to remote garages not big superstores'
The proposed extension of the 5p per litre fuel rebate to include Devon and Cornwall should be directed at small independent garages not big supermarkets, retailers say.
The two counties were both included in a list of 36 remote rural areas which could benefit from the concession.
The Government is now asking for fuel retailers in the areas to report how much they charge for petrol and diesel.
In its response, the Rural Shops Alliance (RSA) says the initiative should focus on smaller independent forecourts distant from a fuel depot rather than giving help across an entire county.
Tuesday 9th & Wednesday 10th. Carol (with over 16yrs experience) has 10% off - facials. Pedicures. Manicures. Body wraps. Spray tans. Waxing. Tinting. Perming
Terms: For 2 days only. With therapist Carol. Please quote "2 day special offer".
Contact: 01271 440617
Valid until: Thursday, December 12 2013
The criticism comes after an AA report revealed the large fluctuation in fuel cost in the region, which are still amongst the highest in England – an average of 137.8p per litre of petrol, 1.6p more than a month ago.
Ken Parsons, RSA chief executive, said successive governments had allowed the large supermarket chains to use very cheap fuel prices, cross subsidised from the profits made in their stores, to attract customers.
"At the same time, the large fuel companies have sat back and seen their other outlets wither away, leaving them dependent on very few key customers to maintain their volume," he added.
"The proposed Government scheme is some help but restricted by county makes no sense at all.
"Those most in need of support are the smaller independent forecourts, with relatively low throughputs, distant from a fuel depot, far from other forecourts and off the main road network – all factors that make them expensive to supply.
"Although administratively more difficult than using county boundaries, the Government should aim to extend this scheme across the country, but targeted at the remaining small petrol forecourts that do actually need the support."
The Government has announced that they are considering extending the fuel discount that currently applies to the Scottish islands and the Isles of Scilly to remote and rural parts of the UK mainland.
Under the current scheme garages can register with HM Revenue and Customs to claim back five pence per litre relief on unleaded petrol and diesel.
This is intended to help with the cost of transporting and distributing fuel to rural areas.
Information provided under the consultation will be used by to convince the European Commission of the need to expand the initiative, which requires EU approval.
There are just six counties in England being considered for the scheme, Cornwall, Devon, Herefordshire, North Yorkshire, Cumbria and Northumberland.
The Government wants details of petrol and diesel prices in the last quarter of 2012.