Chancellor delivers continuation of fuel duty freeze

The announcement by the Chancellor of the Exchequer that fuel duty is to remain frozen for a sixth year has received a considered welcome.  In the run up to George Osborne’s eighth Budget address there had been rumours that a fuel duty increase may be been an option.

In delivering his Budget speech to a packed House of Commons, Mr Osborne revised down the UK’s growth forecast but declared that that the country was ‘well placed’ to ward off a mix of global economic risks.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer further seized the opportunity to reiterate his view that the UK economy would be at risk if the forthcoming referendum resulted in a vote to leave the EU.

Welcoming the continuing freeze on fuel duty the Road Haulage Association reiterated that thousands of UK hauliers are already paying the highest levels of fuel duty in Europe.

RHA’s Chief Executive, Richard Burnett, said: “A tax on diesel is a tax on the entire economy – the vast majority of which is carried on the back of a truck.

“It has been widely publicised that the economy is slowing down yet the one area that remains buoyant is the retail sector.  The Chancellor’s decision to freeze duty will keep money in people’s pockets – money that will help retailers and provide a sound base for economic recovery.”

The Freight Transport Association (FTA) also welcomed the continuing freeze on fuel duty but expressed disappointment in the fact that Mr Osborne could have seized the opportunity to reduce fuel duty by three pence per litre.

In its pre-Budget submission FTA told the Chancellor that a reduction would make an important contribution towards protecting the UK economy.

Following the Budget statement, James Hookham, FTA Managing Director of Policy and Communications, said: “A further freeze of duties is welcome but the Chancellor missed a chance to give a boost to the stuttering economy by reducing the tax on an essential business input.”

Quentin Willson, lead spokesperson for the FairFuelUK campaign (of which the RHA and FTA are key supporters), commented: “Freezing duty for another year is hugely significant.  The Treasury now has five years of evidence to prove that keeping fuel duty low has helped improve GDP, stimulate economic activity and actually improve tax receipts.  The Chancellor knows that low transport costs have had an enormous economic benefit to the UK over the last five years.”

Howard Cox, the campaign’s founder of added:  “Our intense lobbying and campaigning hit home to the Treasury.  By not hiking fuel duty Osborne has ensured that £5 billion is not taken from consumer spending in this Parliament.

"His decision has ensured continued growth in GDP, low inflation and new jobs will not be compromised, with added benefits of more VAT, income and corporation tax revenue too.

“Hard working Brits will be relieved, but he should have been braver and cut duty for even more benefits to the economy.  But that would be churlish to complain today, FairFuelUK is hugely grateful to maybe the next Prime Minister and his sensible actions today.”