Further fuel price hikes will hit rural communities hardest

Running a car could prove too much of a drain on budgets and might compel motorists to reduce the amount they drive, according to East Anglia’s rural business membership body, the CLA.

CLA member Smiths Gore - a leading Peterborough-based rural chartered surveyors’ firm, claims people living in rural areas do 50 percent more mileage than urban dwellers, so further fuel price rises will hit them harder.

Smiths Gore head of research, Jason Beedell, said: “In many areas, travel by car is essential, not a luxury, especially now many services, such as buses, post offices and even doctors’ surgeries, have been closed. This is linked to previous Governments not allowing development in rural areas, which meant that many villages were too small to support bus services or doctors’ surgeries. Therefore policies that were meant to preserve the countryside have ironically made them less sustainable.”

Newmarket-based CLA East Director, Nicola Currie, said: “Keeping a vehicle on the road is vital for many small businesses – especially those based in the countryside. But people can push back against steep fuel prices as there are ways to save pounds at the pumps, helping ease pressure on the pocket.

“Shop around for the best deal on the forecourt to make sure you aren’t paying over the odds for your fuel; put your postcode into PetrolPrices.com to find the cheapest options in your area. Supermarkets tend to have competitively priced fuel, so it could be worth driving a few extra miles to get the best price. And look out for the discounted fuel offers that arise regularly if you spend above a certain amount at the supermarket.”

Top tips to beat high fuel costs

• Convert to LPG – converting your car to LPG will slash what you spend on fuel. Not only is it cheaper, but it’s a cleaner-burning fuel that is better for your engine and the environment. Fitting a secondary fuel tank will cost around £1,500 but you could earn back the cost of the modification in about 14 months.

• Shed the extra weight – the heavier the car, the more fuel it consumes so offload any unnecessary items kept in the boot to cut costs.

• Regular service – getting your car regularly serviced will mean it will not only last longer but be more fuel efficient.

• Plan ahead – carefully planning your route means you can avoid busy roads and possibly lengthy spells sat in the traffic – idling equates to zero miles per gallon.

• Adapt your driving – save money by cutting back on engine revs and accelerate smoothly. Try to shift up to higher gears as soon as possible as lower gears usually mean higher fuel consumption. Keep gear changes as smooth as possible and avoid sharp acceleration and braking.

• Don’t drive as much – big savings can be made by cutting down the number of you miles you drive. Try car-sharing, and combining several errands in one trip to help cut down on fuel costs and reduce the wear and tear on your vehicle.