More than half of small firms have already started to pass on increased fuel costs to their customers, according to a new report.
A survey of 300 smaller companies by Bibby Financial Services showed that four out of five were feeling the effect of the rising price of fuel, with many cutting back on road journeys.
One in five of those polled said they were under pressure to increase fuel-related allowances to their staff. Firms in rural areas were hardest hit by the fuel crisis, although industrial regions such as the West Midlands were also suffering, according to the findings.
Kevin Rose, of Bibby Financial Services in the Midlands, said: “The fuel crisis is on everyone’s minds at the moment and has become a very public issue overnight. This survey gives a voice to the impact that heightened transport issues, particularly surrounding fuel costs, are having on small and medium sized businesses in the West Midlands.
“There are many companies already carrying out and planning solutions to the problem of increased fuel costs, which is encouraging but the majority of businesses are yet to take action. Owners and managers in the region must take steps now to fortify their cash flow and reduce the risk of the fuel crisis on their business from being any greater than it already is.”
More than a third of businesses in Birmingham are already responding to the fuel crisis by reviewing their company vehicles and making plans to introduce more efficient models – the highest figure in the country.
A similar number of businesses in the neighbouring East Midlands are looking at similar plans, with other areas of the country lagging behind.
Petrol prices continue to rise across the UK, driven by the rising price of crude oil – which recently passed $140 a barrel for the first time in history.