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Against a backdrop of the highest inflation rate for 30 years, as well as record energy and fuel costs, the Fed says Chancellor Rishi Sunak offered little or no help for independent retailers in his spring statement.

The only crumbs of comfort announced for smaller businesses were a 5 per cent cut in fuel duty from 6pm today (March 23) until March 2023 and a raising of the National Insurance threshold from July.

While opposition parties and financial commentators called for action on energy bills, including a windfall tax on oil and gas companies, and a scrapping of the planned rise in National Insurance contributions, nothing was forthcoming from the Chancellor in terms of much needed support for businesses.

National President Narinder Randhawa said: “While the reduction in fuel duty of 5p a litre will be welcomed by roundsmen and those who provide home delivery services, it is still just a drop in the ocean when you consider the price of petrol and diesel at the pumps remains at an all-time high.

“The biggest and most worrying challenge for our members is the cost of energy, which will become even worse when the cap comes into force, yet nothing we heard today from Mr Sunak will allay those fears.

“The government was full of praise for the way local stores rose to the challenge of keeping communities going during the Covid pandemic, but now it seems that has been forgotten and we are being left high and dry.”

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