Lib Dems call for fuel duty reduction in rural areas

Analysis suggests households in rural areas paid £114 in transport costs a week in the year to March 2020, almost £40 more than those in urban areas.

Petrol prices have been rocketing (Rui Vieira/PA)
Petrol prices have been rocketing (Rui Vieira/PA)

Fuel duty should be cut in rural areas to ease the pressure on families facing sky-high prices at the pump, ministers have been told.

Analysis by the Liberal Democrats suggests households in rural areas paid £114 in transport costs each week in the year to March 2020, almost £40 more than those in urban areas, equating to an extra burden of nearly £2,000 per year.

The party is calling for an expansion of the rural fuel duty relief scheme, which is currently offered in a handful of remote areas of the UK, to places where “public transport options are limited and drivers are being disproportionately hit by rising fuel prices”.

This would include Devon, Cornwall, Cumbria, Shropshire and Wales, it said.

The Lib Dems also want the relief to be doubled to 10p a litre.

Tim Farron, Lib Dem rural affairs spokesman, called for action (Jonathan Brady/PA)

Tim Farron, the party’s rural affairs spokesman, said: “The Government must act now to help rural families on the brink, by expanding the fuel duty relief scheme.

“Ministers need to also crack down on the petrol profiteers who are cashing in on people’s misery at the pump.”

It comes as the Business Secretary has ordered an “urgent” investigation into petrol station operators amid concerns some are pocketing the multibillion-pound cut to fuel duty announced by the Chancellor in March.

In a letter to the Competition and Markets Authority, Kwasi Kwarteng wrote that people were “rightly frustrated” that the 5p-a-litre reduction had not stopped prices from soaring.

A Government spokesperson said: “We understand that people are struggling with rising prices which is why we have acted to protect the eight million most vulnerable British families through at least £1,200 of direct payments this year with additional support for pensioners and those claiming disability benefits.

“Through our £37 billion support package we are also saving the typical employee over £330 a year through a tax cut in July, allowing people on Universal Credit to keep £1,000 more of what they earn and cutting fuel duty by 5p saving a typical family £100.”

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