Fuel: Amid the austerity, drivers are cheered as duty rise is scrapped

Autumn Statement

The biggest cheer from Tory backbenchers (and motorists) to George Osborne’s otherwise austerity-heavy Autumn Statement was his announcement to scrap the 3p-a-litre fuel duty increase planned for next month.

Before he stood up, most commentators had predicted that Mr Osborne would again postpone this rise, which would mean drivers filling an average tank would have had to fork out almost £2 more for petrol or diesel.

But instead he said he was not merely postponing the 3p rise until  April 2013, but axeing it altogether. It means that the Chancellor has not raised petrol duty at all since coming into office.

Under Labour plans – accepted by the Coalition – petrol prices were due to rise every year under the automatic fuel escalator.

Mr Osborne has now cancelled two of these rises, and many expect him also to cancel two more duty rises that are due before the election.

It represents a victory for Tory campaigners, led by the MP for Harlow, Robert Halfon, who have argued that such increases are unacceptable to ordinary voters with petrol prices already at record highs.

Edmund King, president of the AA said: “In 20 years, UK motoring has cut its fuel consumption by 20 per cent but contributes 144 per cent more in fuel duty tax.

“Britain’s 35 million motorists each average about 7,000 miles a year. Cancelling this rise will save them a combined total of more than £1 billion annually, money which they can use to ease their financial headaches and help support the economy through their own spending.

“It’s not as if drivers aren’t already paying a huge amount in tax. Even without an increase, 60 per cent of the pump price goes to the Exchequer.”

But Friends of the Earth’s executive director Andy Atkins said: “Motorists will continue to pay a heavy price until we wean our cars off of their dependency on petrol and diesel.

“A few pence off fuel duty is simply tinkering under the bonnet. Ministers must completely overhaul their motoring strategy so we can have cleaner, cheaper transport in the future.”

Case study: Petrol freeze helps, but pay freeze hurts

Adrian Dummott, 38, is a paramedic from Corsham in Wiltshire

I was pleased about the scrapping of the hike in fuel duty as I have to drive around 50 miles a day to get to work so that’s quite a big issue for me and my family. I live with my two small boys and my wife, who also works in the public sector as a paramedic. The pay freeze over the past few years has been difficult for us, so while a one per cent pay rise is welcome, it means we’re still worse off in real terms. I suppose it’s better than nothing.

“I’m surprised that tax-free allowance on pensions wasn’t cut further – the annual allowance has dipped from £50,000 to £40,000 but I thought it would go down to around £30,000. I’m glad there’s talk of going after big businesses, but the cuts to benefits are a concern. I do wonder if there are enough jobs out there to penalise the unemployed. My sister is disabled, so I’m worried.

“The Government likes to suggest public sector workers are better off than the private sector, but that’s not the case. They’ve done a good job of demonising the public sector, as if we’re to blame for everything wrong with the country.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
food + drink
Life and Style
love + sex A new study has revealed the average size - but does that leave men outside the 'normal' range being thought of as 'abnormal'?
News
UK Border Control
i100
Arts and Entertainment
TV
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Office Junior / Assistant

£7800 - £13455 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A career opportunity has become ...

Recruitment Genius: Product Advisor - Automotive

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Due to the consistent growth of...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Automotive

£18000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity exists for an ex...

Recruitment Genius: Renewals Sales Executive - Automotive

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity exists for an ou...

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn