Today, the government has listened. In his Autumn Statement, George Osborne scrapped the fuel tax bombshell that was scheduled for January 2012.
As regular Coffee House readers will know, more than 100 MPs supported my cross-party
campaign for cheaper petrol. At its height, it saw an e-petition attract more than 124,000 names — triggering a full MPs’ debate in Parliament.
It has been a very long campaign, working with many organisations, from FairFuelUK and the RAC, to the independent forecourt industry, The Spectator and the Sun, to thousands of members of the
public who wrote to me in support. Over several months, I have asked questions in Parliament, spoken at Prime Minister’s Question Time, held debates and public meetings, and even helped to push a
taxi-cab up Whitehall, to 10 Downing Street, as a symbolic protest at astronomical fuel prices.
Fundamentally, we need lower taxes for lower earners: rip-off petrol prices have been literally adding to our dole queues, and causing a poverty trap, as people cannot afford to drive to work. High
petrol and diesel prices are also a major brake on economic growth. We need lower taxes to get our economy moving again.
That is why I am delighted that George Osborne today announced an extra freeze in fuel duty in his Autumn Statement. As he put it:
‘Millions use their cars to go to work, and pick up the children from school. It is not a luxury for most people — it is a necessity… Despite all the constraints that are upon us,
we are able to cancel the duty increase planned for January and for fuel duty from August to be only 3p higher than it is now. Taxes on petrol will be a full 10p lower than it would have been
without our action in the Budget and this autumn. Families will save £144 on filling up the average family car by the end of next year. In these tough times, we are helping where we
This is victory for millions of families and small businesses, who depend on their cars and vans. It is a victory for millions of hard-pressed pensioners, who are struggling with high
food prices, as the cost of road haulage goes through the roof.
But most of all, today’s news is a victory for the poorest and most vulnerable Britons in our country. Official figures have proved that the poorest Brits are hardest hit by high petrol taxes,
and they end up spending nearly twice as much of their income on filling their cars as the better off. Fundamentally, this is an issue of social justice: that is why I welcome the strong action that
the Government has taken today.
Robert Halfon is the MP for Harlow.