Even Conservative MPs have slammed the idea reportedly put forward by government.
Raising fuel duty for the first time since 2011 would be unjustified and could cause already-lofty fuel prices to ‘rocket’, the RAC has said.
The Guardian reported yesterday (July 3) that the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond, is planning to lift the fuel duty freeze put in place by his predecessor, George Osborne.
The news comes just weeks after motorists suffered the worst month for petrol price rises in 18 years, and the RAC says beleaguered motorists are ‘already paying their fair share’.
The motoring organisation’s head of policy, Nicholas Lyes, said: ‘UK motorists already pay some of the highest fuel duties in Europe, with VAT also charged on every litre of fuel sold. This, coupled with fuel prices being at their highest in more than three years, means that drivers are increasingly being squeezed at the pumps.
‘During this very period, motorists have also seen tax on their car insurance premiums double. Overall, it means the Treasury is now collecting more than £40bn a year from drivers in motoring-related taxation, so there is a very strong argument that motorists are already paying their fair share of tax.
‘By the Treasury’s own admission, lower fuel duty rates actually boost economic growth and consumer spending which offset any revenue loss. Given the evidence, we do not think there is any justification for the Chancellor to raise fuel duty.’
Lyes’ colleague, Simon Williams, said the weakness of British currency meant any increase in tax could help prices ‘rocket’.
‘Fuels are at their highest prices for more than three years,’ he said. ‘With a significantly weaker pound, it would only take a few further oil prices rises this year to see prices start to rocket.’
And the RAC isn’t the only group slamming the reported proposals – those inside Westminster have slammed the idea, too.
Robert Halfon, the Conservative MP for Harlow, took to Twitter to rail against the suggestion.
‘If true, [it’s an] absolutely wrong-headed decision to increase fuel duty,’ he said. ‘[It] would hit motorists [and] businesses and [an] increase in transport costs equals increasing costs for all. Prices at [the] pump have been rising because of [the] international oil price. Why hit motorists further?’