Northern Ireland families will be paying an extra £200 annually on petrol within a year, the AA has said.
The motoring organisation added that by next April there will have been a 8p hike per litre — or “maybe more” in the worst case scenario — on the cost of fuel.
It’s alarming news that comes after the Chancellor’s 2009 Budget unveiled plans to impose a 2p per litre fuel duty from September.
Alistair Darling also said that levy will then further increase by 1p a litre above indexation each April for the next four years.
Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, AA Public Affairs spokesman Luke Bosdet warned that motorists in Northern Ireland would be among those hit hardest by pump price increases.
“Drivers in Northern Ireland have been traditionally paying around 1p a litre more for petrol than the next most expensive area in the UK,” he said.
“The 2.12p duty and VAT |increase in April has already added £27.26 to the cost of fuel, or £54.53 for an average UK family with two petrol cars. With 2p in September, VAT back up 2.5% in December and duty up by inflation at least 1p next April, this will add 8p, or maybe more, within almost a year.
“In Northern Ireland, where costs are higher, the average family is therefore likely to see |expenditure on petrol increase by around £200*.”
The AA’s April Fuel Price |report indicated that drivers here were paying on average 96.4p for a litre of petrol — where it |remains more expensive than anywhere else in the UK.
Priced at 102p a litre on average, local diesel drivers are, however, benefiting from among the cheapest pump prices in all 12 regions.
But with widespread unemployment, pay reductions, or wage freezes wreaking havoc on the livelihoods of hundreds of families, having to find any extra money for fuel during the tough days ahead will not be easy.
The founder of comparison website PetrolPrices.com said September's increase will bring the total duty on a litre of fuel to 56.19p per litre.
Brendan McLoughlin added that when the ‘VAT holiday' finishes at the end of 2009, a further 15% hike will bring the total tax on a litre of fuel to around 68p — or a staggering 70% of the average cost.
“A driver spending £25 a week on fuel spends around £1,300 a year at the pumps — £882.93 of which is tax,” he said.
“Another 2p rise would bring the average driver's total spend on fuel tax to £911.76 a year, which will hurt drivers in Northern Ireland even more than other parts of the UK as pump prices in Northern Ireland are already among the highest.”
Ulster Farmers’ Union president Graham Furey said the Budget has added to the burden of rising fuel costs on farm businesses and rural dwellers.
And he added that the rising cost of fuel is also having a disproportionate impact on the cost of living for rural families.
“We have repeatedly called on the Government to reduce fuel duty to offset the rise in costs which farmers are facing. Farming families and rural dwellers tend to have limited or no access to public transport services and have longer travelling distances,” Mr Furey said.
l AA figures based on an average car consumption of 1,286 litres of petrol a year.