Our rookie Chancellor has listened to common sense and frozen Fuel Duty for an unparalleled 10th consecutive Budget since George Osborne’s instinctive one penny cut in 2011. Rishi is hailed with a huge sigh of relief, by our 1.7m supporters, motorists, motorcyclists, van drivers and the commercial heartbeat of our economy, hauliers.
His decision has been pressured by the ‘keep duty frozen’ letters, orchestrated by the indefatigable Robert Halfon MP and Esther McVey MP signed in total by 53 backbench Tory MPs. Our research showed that 2 out of 3 Tory voters in the red wall seats would take back their support if the cost of driving was escalated. For FairFuelUK, with Robert, I delivered to the Treasury, 134,000 signatures to get a cut in this regressive tax. Over 25,000 of our supporters emailed the Chancellor in just 30 hours calling for the same.
Along with MPs we have campaigned hard to counter a rumoured 2 pence per litre hike. This ill-informed thinking being, such an increase would help grab new money for the all-powerful Tory Government’s huge infrastructure projects and more ominously to appease his green tinged special advisors and the cult of Greta Thunberg. Wrong Rishi! When this week’s unforeseen crash in oil prices reverses, and they will, any increase in fuel duty now, would be more than punishing.
Here’s the thing, to all the anti-internal combustion engine voices, even with this insightful freeze, UK drivers remain the highest taxed in the world. They contribute over £40 billion plus every year, without fail, making up the 5th largest income stream to the Exchequer.
VAT on the Duty itself, means every time we fill up nearly 70% of our hard-earned cash still goes to the Government. Boris Johnson when we at FairFuelUK interviewed him during his vote leave campaign, he told us he wants to get control of VAT at the pumps, something Brussels is stopping. Now he is Prime Minister, will he stick to his promise?
Had Gordon Brown’s fuel escalator been in place, pump prices would now be over £1.80, inflation 7% with an extra £120bn in cumulative funding costs of Government debt. Because of the Fuel Duty freeze, household expenditure is £24.2 billion higher per year. This equates to approximately 1.21% of total GDP. And let it not go unnoticed, virtually all countries tax diesel less than petrol too. So, any virtue signalling green tax hike on diesel does not hold water.
Other successful economies do not tax the motorist so heavily. Germany is 14th in the EU for taxing petrol drivers and 18th for diesel users, that’s over 10% lower than the UK. Spain is 23rd for both fuels and 12% lower than the UK. EU countries see clean Euro 6 diesel as the commercial heartbeat of their economies and so tax it less. The UK should do the same, especially as we are nearly free of the EU fiscal shackles. This Government must recognise, that drivers do not want to be seen just as environmental pariahs and perennial easy cash cows.
It’s time we put lower taxation at the heart of a long-term road user transport strategy. We must put money back into consumer spending and incentivise drivers to move to cleaner fuels and better solutions to help lower emissions.
Any thought of tax increases on hard pressed motorists, will result in a Drivers Rebellion. Well done Chancellor, that for the moment is postponed.