Belfast Telegraph

Home News UK

Duty freeze 'still leaves squeeze'

The Chancellor announced that the planned September fuel duty rise will not take place, but he resisted calls to cut duty - to the disappointment of campaign and motoring groups.

The AA said the freeze on duty, for a fourth year, was " very welcome relief for UK drivers".

But AA president Edmund King went on: "The freeze still leaves the squeeze on families and businesses that rely on four wheels to function and prosper.

"Now that we know, from official figures, that inflation-hit earnings are effectively at 2002 levels and car use is struggling to revive, perhaps a short-term cut in fuel duty would have got the UK properly mobile again."

Professor Stephen Glaister, director of the RAC Foundation, said: "The good news is that fuel duty has now been frozen since March 2011. The bad news is that the UK's 37 million drivers still pay the highest proportion of petrol and diesel tax in Europe.

"The Treasury's own analysis shows cuts to duty would boost the nation's economic output.

"Yet the stubbornly high pump prices mean transport costs remain a real concern for the record 18 million people who rely on a car to get to work.

"For those offered low paid employment there is a real question mark over whether they can afford to take it up with travel still so expensive."

Mr Osborne also announced that following the severe winter weather, he was making an extra £200 million available to local authorities to repair potholes.

Prof Glaister welcomed the extra money.

But he added: "The drip, drip of funding does not address the £10 billion road maintenance backlog that councils themselves have identified.

It is also disappointing that this money has to be bid for. This creates a bureaucratic burden and means not all councils and drivers will see the benefits."

The Chancellor also said that the 2% increase in company car tax would be extended to 2017 and 2018, but there would be an increase in discounts for ultra-low emission vehicles and there will be a reduction in the rate of fuel duty for ethanol.


From Belfast Telegraph