Despite cancelling the fuel duty rise in September, Chancellor George Osborne’s stance on fuel in last week’s Budget disappointed some automotive and fuel groups which had wanted him to cut fuel duty. Osborne’s proposal means the level of duty on both petrol and diesel will stay at 57.95p per litre. It has been at this rate since March 2011.
Director of the RAC Foundation, Professor Stephen Glaister, said, ‘The good news is that fuel duty has now been frozen since March 2011. The bad news is that the UK’s 37m 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.’
Founder of FairFuelUK, Howard Cox, said, ‘Huge disappointment in the Chancellor’s Budget. It seems the Treasury is in total denial. We have presented conclusive proof that cutting fuel duty will generate jobs, increase GDP and lower inflation. Evidence they have yet to refute and supported by MPs from all Parties. Mr Osborne even said in his Budget speech that punitive taxation is wrong. Well what’s more punitive than taking 60% in tax from 32m road users? We have rammed the evidence into every part of Westminster Political Office. The Chancellor simply does not get it. Cutting Fuel Duty is a real fiscal stimulus and he has missed the opportunity of accelerating our recent positive economic growth.’
Chancellor Osborne also announced £200m will be made available to fix potholes. This emergency funding set aside by government will allow local authorities to repair up to 3.2mn potholes following the severe weather. Commenting on this, Professor Glaister said, ‘A succession of bad weather, including the recent floods, has wrought havoc on our roads and any money to fill the potholes is welcome. But the drip, drip of funding does not address the £10bn 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.’
Chief Executive, Campaign for Better Transport, Stephen Joseph, Campaign for Better Transport, said, ‘The Chancellor has done little to reduce the everyday cost of transport which remains one of the biggest costs faced by households. The £20m tax break the Chancellor is giving to bingo halls would be better spent reversing the planned cuts to bus services this year. Extra money to tackle potholes is welcome, but this is a drop in the ocean against the £10bn backlog to local road repairs. These are the issues that matter to people rather than big road building.’
It was also announced in the Budget that £140m extra will be spent on flood defence repairs and maintenance. The government has commissioned HS2 Ltd to develop proposals for accelerating the project and opening the line to Crewe by 2027, six years earlier than planned.