Belfast Telegraph

More motoring misery as fuel tax hike looms

By Peter Woodman

As drivers in Northern Ireland brace themselves for a fuel duty increase of up to 5p a litre in April, figures show that motorists have already suffered a similar price surge in the last month.

Northern Ireland remains the most expensive region for fuel, averaging 133.8p a litre for petrol, and 139.7p a litre for diesel.

Average UK petrol prices have risen from 128.81p a litre in mid-February to a new record of 132.88p in mid-March.

Average diesel pump prices have gone up 4.97p a litre in the same period, from 134.01p to an all-time high of 138.98p, said the AA which urged the Chancellor to use the Budget to scrap the planned April fuel duty rise.

Yorkshire and Humberside has cheapest diesel, at 138.2p, and cheapest petrol at 131.9p a litre.

For petrol car owners, the 4.07p average increase in pump prices has added more than £2 to the cost of a tank of petrol and a family with two petrol cars has seen the monthly petrol bill go up £8.64 over the past month.

AA president Edmund King said: “Drivers are already contributing 5p a litre more in VAT from petrol and diesel so far this year.

“If this continues, the Treasury will gain an extra £1.25bn over the year and maybe more if stock markets push oil prices higher.

“Surely, drivers are already paying their share towards filling the budget deficit, with some breaking under the strain on their own finances.”

He went on: “Turmoil in the Middle East, with its impact on oil and pump price volatility, is already adding to financial uncertainty for poorer drivers. The AA asks the Government to provide some respite by cancelling the fuel duty increase on April 1. If not, tales of the rural poor being marooned in their villages and people cutting back on their food to keep the car on the road so that they can go to work will become more common — to the shame of a developed country.”

The RAC Foundation called the spiralling price of fuel a “critical issue” after a recent consumer survey put it top of people's transport concerns.

More than two-thirds (68%) of 991 people surveyed by Ipsos MORI put tackling high fuel prices among their top three transport priorities for government ministers, up from 46% at the end of March last year.

Professor Stephen Glaister of the RAC Foundation, said: “A year ago the price of a litre of unleaded was 117p, today it is around 132p.”

Belfast Telegraph

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