blog fuel duty

Is fuel duty fair?

Fuel industry representatives and lobbyists are descending on Downing Street today, seeking a cut in the level of fuel duty ahead of the Budget next week.

It’s a well-worn argument that certainly has some merit, not to mention being a PR open goal – tax on our road fuels is the highest in Europe and the overall trend in pricing has been inexorably upwards over the last decade. In this era of austerity, amid the cost of living crisis we’re often reminded we’re suffering, high fuel prices are a convenient lightning rod when it comes to the blame for squeezed family budgets.

But is fuel duty really such a bad idea? In recent years there’s been a lot of debate and speculation about how automotive taxes will be collected in the future. Bumped up vehicle excise duty, tolls on motorways, blanket ‘pay as you go’ road pricing – these have all been mooted.

However, the physical tax disc is on the way out and the infrastructure required to activate road pricing would likely be extremely expensive and take significant time to get up and running. It would take a brave government to bring it in, too – and certainly not one that’s seeking re-election!

So here’s what the Red Marlin Party would propose. Forget about road pricing. Get rid of VED altogether along with tax disc. And put all vehicle tax on fuel. It sounds controversial but it makes sense. The way the current system works punishes infrequent motorists and rewards high mileage drivers, because it makes no distinction between them. It’s a tax on ownership, whereas an exclusively fuel-based tax would be based on usage. The more you use, the more you pay. The measure would have the additional environmental benefit of encouraging owners to opt for fuel efficient models and drive in a more economical way.

To us, that seems simple, sensible and fair. And that, above all else, is probably why it will never happen!

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