At the Budget on 3 March, fuel duty was frozen for the eleventh year in a row, which was welcomed by the FairFuelUK campaign. I too am pleased that motorists will not be hit by a tax rise during this incredibly difficult time.
However, while the Government said this freeze was aimed at helping people with the cost of living as the UK recovers from the pandemic, I am concerned that other measures in the Budget and elsewhere undermine this.
The UK is in the middle of the worst economic crisis of any major economy. Now is therefore not the time to be hiking taxes on families across the country. Yet the Chancellor is undermining household incomes through a combination of forcing local authorities to increase council tax, freezing public sector pay and cutting Universal Credit.
In addition, it plans to increase costs to families by freezing the income tax basic rate limit and personal allowance a full year before it plans to increase costs to business by raising the main rate of corporation tax.
The Chancellor said in the Budget that future fuel duty rates would be “considered in the context of the UK’s commitment to reach net-zero emissions by 2050”. I will consider any longer-term changes to the tax system carefully, bearing in mind that the UK is way off meeting its carbon-cutting targets.
I believe any future changes must be fair and should go hand in hand with action to shore up family finances and improve living standards after a decade of policy decisions that I believe have weakened the foundations of our economy.