The headline 5p cut to fuel duty will have been welcomed by some but for many, simply does not go far enough. Neither does it make up for the dramatic cost rises at the pumps that have been seen in the months leading up to this point. Granted the cost of oil has been dramatically impacted by the illegal Russian invasion of Ukraine, but that is of little comfort to those who rely on transport to access key services, employment, education and health care. In reality, this is the challenge facing many living in rural areas, where public transport provision, or other options away from private transport are limited. For community businesses that use vehicles to collect stock, or to deliver goods to customers the cost of fuel is another burden that they now must build in to their operations.
There was an apparent missed opportunity yesterday to directly respond to the fuel-poverty crisis that is engulfing the UK. Sadly the End Fuel Poverty Coalition predicts that 1 in 4 households will wake up in fuel poverty on 1 April 2022. Furthermore rural residents and businesses have some of the hardest to heart properties and about a million rely on heating oil that is risen in cost three times over since this time last year. Whilst Mr Sunak was positively able to announce incentives for green technologies, at this current time the cost of many technologies is prohibitive for many businesses and residents to even contemplate exploring.
It is shocking to think that the stark news of the highest inflation rate in nearly 30 years has not yet fully accounted for the war in Ukraine. The financial crisis we are currently enduring is therefore clearly here to stay for the foreseeable future. For community-owned businesses, operating on a predominantly no (low) profit making basis, with a primary purpose of social impact the challenge of keeping their prices affordable and continuing to delivery their services are now a very real challenge. Plunkett Foundation remains available to support community businesses at this time, whether that is implementing short-term measures or seeking to revise their operating model. Please do get in touch via firstname.lastname@example.org to share your needs and we will see how best we can help.