Rising fuel prices are holding back plumbing businesses

Published:  27 July, 2011

The high price of fuel is badly affecting plumbing companies as customers refuse to accept higher prices, warns the Association of Plumbing & Heating Contractors.

Not only are fuel costs eating into profits, but the recession means customers will not tolerate price rises to allow for the ever-increasing cost of fuel. The Association says that any small advantage companies can gain – by using free online tools to find the cheapest local station or by using a fuelcard company – is well worth it as it can make hundreds and even thousands of pounds difference per year.

“Fuel prices have risen by at least 20 to 25 pence in the last year,” said John Thompson, APHC chief executive. “That means around £1,000 extra spent on fuel for the average Ford Transit-style van travelling 30,000 miles a year at an average 30mpg. However, with customers holding back on major projects and typically shopping around for the lowest price for essential work, we’re finding that plumbing and heating engineers are finding it difficult to pass that cost on. These high – and increasing – fuel costs are making their lives a misery.”

With around 61% of the price you pay at the pump going to Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs in the form of fuel duty and VAT, campaigns for a cut in fuel duty are gathering pace. FairFuel UK was formed at the beginning of 2011 and has quickly become a significant voice in the protests, with 200,000 public supporters and many high-profile businesses on board including the RAC, the Road Haulage Association and the Freight Transport Association.

FFUK’s efforts can already take considerable credit for forcing the Chancellor to abandon the fuel escalator in the March budget. APHC is therefore encouraging its members – and the whole of the industry - to sign up to the campaign at www.fairfueluk.com.

In the meantime, APHC has been recommending its members use its Fuelcard member benefit, which can save members money every time they fill up. A conservative estimate of a 3p/litre saving, for example, equates to a saving of approximately £135 per van, per year.