Trade bodies have called on the government to scrap the fuel duty increases planned for next year.

Ahead of a Parliamentary debate brought about by over 100,000 members of the public signing an e-petition, various retail groups have urged the government not to implement the increases planned in January and August of 2012.

British Retail Consortium director general Stephen Robertson said an increase in prices would have a double effect on business. “More rises would eat further into customers’ budgets leaving them even less money to spend on the things they need and want,” he said. “Plus retailers themselves will pay more to get goods to their shops, making it harder for them to keep shop prices down.”

He added that the Chancellor needs to start encouraging confidence in the retail sector. “With consumer spending and retail job numbers dropping, rebuilding the confidence of customers to spend and retailers to return to investing and creating jobs has to be the Chancellor’s priority,” said Robertson. “Giving businesses and households a clear signal that he will forego the two fuel duty increases planned for next year would be a valuable boost, particularly in the run up to Christmas. No-one can afford to pay more for fuel.”

The Forum of Private Business has also called for a fuel duty increase freeze. “Our members have seen a continued rise in the cost of business over the last year, and according to our latest survey, 92% of SMEs saw an increase in transport costs,” said the Forum’s chief executive Phil Orford. “An additional fuel duty increase in the current climate simply can’t be justified. Not only would significant tax hikes damage small firms further, it’s highly likely growth would be affected with consumers having less money in their pocket to spend.”