Retailers and wholesalers have welcomed Chancellor George Osborne’s decision to scrap the fuel duty increase planned for January.

Osborne has previously said fuel duty would increase by 3p a litre next month, but in today’s Autumn Statement revealed the move had been cancelled.

“No-one can afford to pay more for fuel,” said British Retail Consortium director general Stephen Robertson.

“Cancelling January’s rise is exactly what we asked for. It will provide much needed support for consumers. It will ease the pressure on household budgets, boost customers’ ability to spend and help hard-pressed retailers contain their transport costs.”

James Bielby, CEO of the Federation of Wholesale Distributors added: “By cancelling the fuel duty rise due in January, the Chancellor has recognised the need to keep costs of distribution down and help these small businesses provide vital services and employment in communities across the country.”

Association of Convenience Stores CEO James Lowman said: “The Chancellor’s decision to cancel the planned 3% fuel duty increase will provide a much needed lifeline for forecourt retailers and will keep costs down for all retailers whose delivery and wholesale costs are significantly affected by the price of fuel.”

However, both the ACS and BRC said they were disappointed Osborne had not gone far enough to stop unpredictable business rate hikes.

“We welcome the Chancellor’s announcement of a one year extension to the small business rate relief scheme, but it will not benefit enough businesses to stimulate the investment needed to revive high streets,” Lowman said.

“The Chancellor had a golden opportunity to give some financial certainty and respite to hard pressed businesses by capping the annual rates increase at 2% - the same as the council tax cap and the government’s inflation target - but he has failed to act. This will be a damaging blow to many local shops who are struggling to stay afloat.”

Robertson added:  “The Chancellor should have removed the threat of a further 2.6%, £175m increase next April to avoid more empty shops. Its welcome news that small retailers will benefit from relief for an extra year but retail CEOs tell us a third successive substantial rates hike will deliver a further blow to investment and job creation. It is not too late for the Chancellor to offer a freeze to prevent that.”