Cash-flow of small Suffolk firms 'squeezed to nothing' as fuel now £2 a litre
- Credit: SARAH LUCY BROWN
Ever increasing fuel prices are leaving smaller businesses in Suffolk cash-strapped and stopping workers from returning to offices, business representatives have warned.
The cost of petrol has now risen to £2 a litre in some places and is averaging £1.89, leading to a warning from the Suffolk Chamber of Commerce that the cash flow and margins of smaller firms are being "squeezed to nothing".
Paul Simon, head of communications and policy at the chamber, said: “Whilst larger firms seem to have hedged their exposure to increases in spot prices and so put off some of the full pain for a while, this is an option unavailable to the many thousands of smaller firms which are the backbone of our economy.
“Many are seeing their margins and cash flow squeezed to nothing as a result of these additional burdens.”
He said the county was particularly vulnerable due to its rural nature which meant companies in the haulage and logistics sectors were especially dependent on their vehicles and therefore exposed to "sky-high fuel costs".
These were in addition to pre-existing inflationary pressures on energy and raw material costs, Mr Simon said.
He added: “Suffolk Chamber is also hearing from some members that record fuel costs are slowing down their plans to get more staff back into their offices, even on a part-time basis.
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“Others are suggesting that some staff are looking to cut back on their hours in order to reduce their own cost of living. At a time when businesses are struggling to recruit and retain talent, these short-term trends are less than helpful.”
He called on the Government to support businesses "sooner rather than later" through further temporary cuts in fuel duty and VAT on fuel.
Prema Fairburn-Dorai, chair of the Suffolk Association of Independent Care Providers, said: “It is killing the industry because carers are leaving and I can’t blame them really because the mileage sum that we pay them is not really covering the cost.
“Some companies like home care are really just on the brink and making ends meet.”
She appealed for funding from the county council and said alternative forms of transport were not an option for most carers within the county as they could not cycle to do their jobs.