BUSINESS leaders in Huntingdonshire have condemned the Government's decision to increase fuel duty and business rates, claiming that implementing these changes now will severely undermine the UK's economic recovery. John Bridge, chief executive of Huntingdonshire Chamber of Commerce, said: "It's not an exaggeration to say that some companies could go bust under the strain of the increase in business rates, fuel duty and the ending of transitional rate relief, which could triple payments for some businesses. "The Government is quick to make all the right noises about helping businesses, yet in reality it is increasing costs left, right and centre. And what they don't seem to comprehend is that they are imposing a double whammy on businesses on fuel because the VAT reduction that came into effect last December was transferred to fuel duty, meaning that businesses could no longer reclaim the amount affected. So this is in effect the second increase in four months. "The German Government are giving their road haulage industry a very significant package of benefits, yet our Government, where we've got the highest fuel duty in Europe, is increasing costs even more and making UK companies even more uncompetitive. "And what is the point in slashing VAT by 2.5 per cent to encourage consumer spending on the High Street when you're only going to take it back again at the pumps? "Furthermore Alistair Darling's decision to implement a two per cent rise in business rates this year with a further three per cent increase over the following two years is yet another incomprehensible hurdle for businesses - especially at a time when RPI inflation is at zero per cent. "With the two per cent increase businesses will still be hit at a time when they have restricted cash-flow and growth, and that doesn't make any sense in an economic downturn. "It will be business that drives the UK out of this recession so I would urge Government to find a way of supporting firms with these extra costs, because right now their actions are seriously contradicting their words.