Chancellor George Osborne has frozen fuel duty in a budget that was clearly targeted at voters ahead of the forthcoming general election.
Osborne said that since 2011, the government had cut and frozen fuel duty, saving a typical motorist a total of £675 by the end of 2015-16. “By the end of 2015-16 fuel duty will have been frozen for five years, resulting in the longest duty freeze in over 20 years.”
He scrapped the toll for cars on the Severn river crossings from 2018. However, he did nothing about Class 3 tolls (lorries and buses). The Freight Transport Association described it as a “kick in the teeth”.
Ian Gallagher, FTA head of policy South West and Wales said: “The Chancellor’s announcement today is the first confirmation from UK Government that charging will continue after 2018 when the bridge comes into public ownership. Whilst the change to the tolls is seen good news for van and minibus operators – FTA considers it is a kick in the teeth for the logistics industry as a whole. There are three years of toll increases still to come. By 2018 we anticipate that the toll will be in excess of £20 for HGVs.”
The Road Haulage Association criticised Osborne’s has failed to make a commitment to funding for driver training. Chief executive Richard Burnett said: “We have put forward a strong, clear argument for why funding is necessary and appropriate. Our lobby for funding support will be even stronger in the coming weeks.
“We note the continued, freeze on fuel duty which was expected. Had he reduced duty (as he did with alcohol) he would have boosted growth and employment as demonstrated through the independent, RHA-funded, NIESR research.”
CitySprint CEO Patrick Gallagher welcome the decision to freeze fuel duty.“High petrol costs disproportionately hurt SMEs and low-income families, and we applaud today’s fuel duty freeze. Recent reductions in oil prices have provided a lifeline for the small businesses across the UK that we work with. It is no coincidence that the five years of frozen duty has coincided with the country’s return to economic growth. Small businesses are a vital part of the recovery.