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
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager / Media Sales - OTE up to £30,000

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This award-winning company, whi...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Software Developer

£40000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique & exciting opp...

Recruitment Genius: UX Consultant

£35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: You will be working with a 8 st...

Recruitment Genius: Part-time Editor

£8000 - £12000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A unique opportunity has arisen ...

Day In a Page

Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition

Orthorexia nervosa

How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
Lady Chatterley is not obscene, says TV director

Lady Chatterley’s Lover

Director Jed Mercurio on why DH Lawrence's novel 'is not an obscene story'
Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests

Set a pest to catch a pest

Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests
Mexico: A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life

The dark side of Mexico

A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life
Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde. Don't tell other victims it was theirs

Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde

Please don't tell other victims it was theirs
A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border