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Fuel discounts demanded for motorists in rural areas

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: February 26, 2013

Comments (4)

George Osborne has been warned rural motorists are hit hardest by spiralling prices at the pump as he comes under mounting pressure to order a fuel duty freeze in next month's Budget.

Conservative MPs will this week table a Commons motion urging the Chancellor to cancel a 3p-a-litre rise in fuel duty planned for September.

Families have suffered from a 6p rise in fuel prices since the start of the year, and the Chancellor has been warned action to bring tax on diesel and petrol under control is now more important than raising the income tax threshold – the coalition's top tax priority.

Neil Parish, Conservative MP for Tiverton and Honiton, has called on Mr Osborne to cap fuel duty again – and he also wants ministers to introduce a fuel discount for drivers in rural areas.

At the autumn financial statement, Mr Osborne announced the Treasury was exploring the possibility of extending a 5p-a-litre cut to fuel being piloted in the Isles of Scilly and Scottish islands to remote areas on the mainland. Commentators believe rural Devon and Cornwall would benefit.

Mr Parish, who serves on the rural affairs select committee, said: "We don't want even higher prices than we have already got. Fuel duty is a tax on rural people that people in urban areas don't face. A car is essential in the country.

"What the Chancellor has already done is delay 10p of fuel tax from the last Labour government – and I will be pressing the Chancellor for another freeze."

Essex Conservative MP Robert Halfon, who has led calls for fairer prices at the pumps, has dubbed fuel duty a "toxic tax".

He said: "This Government has done more than almost any other in recent times to reduce the cost of fuel but we need to go further... in the long term, when the financial conditions allow, to actually cut fuel duty.

"When fuel duty goes up it's not just a tax on fuel because food prices go up, bus prices go up, it crushes businesses, it crushes families, it's a disincentive to work because people can't afford to drive to work."

The intervention came after the AA revealed that the average cost of petrol in the UK is 138.32p a litre, with diesel rising 4.78p from its mid-January price to stand at an average of 145.10p. Petrol has risen 6.24p a litre since early January, adding £3.12 to the cost of refilling a 50-litre tank.

The Chancellor has frozen or deferred duty rises since March 2011, when he cut it by 1p. He also scrapped Labour's so-called fuel duty escalator which automatically put up fuel duty by more than inflation each year.

The Treasury has declined to comment on whether further action was planned, saying it was a matter for the Budget, scheduled for March 20.

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  • Free2opine  |  February 26 2013, 10:13AM

    This makes interesting reading.........page 9 particularly Petrol and diesel prices ( PDF, 23 pages, 608.1 - Parliament 4 days ago ... Unleaded petrol pump prices in the EU taxes and duties pre-tax price. Source: EU Oil Bulletin. 28 January 2013. 0. 25. 50. 75. 100. 125. 150 ... http://tinyurl.com/a9gmglt

  • MrMikeHunt  |  February 26 2013, 9:31AM

    This is not about rural v urban areas, no matter how much your newspaper would like you to believe it is. This isn't even about the price of fuel, ask any airline company how cheap fuel is in this country and they will say 'dirt cheap'. This is purely about the amount of tax and duty that the government place on fuel for the motorist. The price of petrol bares no relationship to it's actual cost of production. This is a government made problem. Maybe all the little socialists who cry for the energy companies to be placed back into public ownership should ask themselves how the government deal with this energy sorce and what kind of profit they are making.

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  • nick113  |  February 26 2013, 9:08AM

    Offering a fuel discount on the Scillies was a pointless gimmick - the longest journey you can make there is about 6 miles round trip! Offering it in rural areas is plain stupid; it assumes that all those buying fuel in the chosen area are equally deserving, and that those who live in towns are equally un-deserving. Not to mention the obvious point that people can drive from town to country when they wish to fill up, or vice-versa.

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  • Sue200  |  February 26 2013, 8:49AM

    Not a chance. Tourist season is coming up and prices will be going up. And don't even get me started on the imminent rises in car parking.

    |   -7