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Budget: Reduce fuel duty to bolster economy

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<p> <strong>By Andrew Hogsden, senior manager, strategic fleet consultancy, Lex Autolease</strong></p> <p> With cost control remaining a top priority for many fleets, I&rsquo;d like to see the 2014 Budget deliver some additional cost-saving measures that will benefit businesses of all sizes.</p> <p> The Chancellor&rsquo;s 2013 Autumn Statement brought welcome relief with the announcement that a proposed rise in fuel duty will be frozen for the remainder of this Parliament.</p> <p> While it would be reassuring to see this commitment cemented in the Budget, I&rsquo;d like to see the Chancellor extend the price freeze into next year or, better still, reduce fuel duty to help bolster the economic recovery.</p> <p> Fuel prices continue to put significant financial pressure on businesses.</p> <p> As a result, we&rsquo;re seeing more clients look to smarter vehicle choice as a more sustainable way to manage costs.</p> <p> The continuation of low CO2 tax incentives will certainly promote uptake of low emission vehicles.</p> <p> In an ideal world, I&rsquo;d like to see legislation on first-year capital allowance for low emission vehicles extended to leasing companies.</p> <p> In addition, companies are keeping a close eye on the Government&rsquo;s stance on electric and plug-in vehicles.</p> <p> It has already announced plans to invest hundreds of millions of pounds over the next two years to support uptake.</p> <p> It would be beneficial for the Budget to detail where the investment will be made.</p> <p> Providing incentives for manufacturers to develop new vehicle technology may account for some expenditure, but for electric vehicles to be a sustainable and mainstream choice for fleets there needs to be a serious commitment to developing the infrastructure.&nbsp;</p> <p> And in light of some encouraging signs of an economic recovery, I wouldn&rsquo;t be alone in hoping to see an extension of the temporary increase of the Annual Investment Allowance threshold beyond 2015.</p> <p> The two-year initiative has given businesses the opportunity to make significant investments in plant or machinery, freeing up capital to support growth and in turn helping to stimulate the economy.</p> <p> An extension of this initiative has real potential to give momentum to the upturn &ndash; something we could all benefit from.</p>

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