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?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Home Care / Support Workers

£7 - £10 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This care provider is looking for Home ...

Recruitment Genius: Web Team Leader

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the UK's leading web des...

Recruitment Genius: Client Manager

£27000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A growing, successful, friendly...

Recruitment Genius: Property Negotiator - OTE £20,000+

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This family owned, independent ...

Day In a Page

The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'