Diesel fuel duty rise would be a bitter pill for drivers

Diesel fuel duty rise would be a bitter pill for drivers
Increasing fuel duty at the pumps is not a fair way to get people out of their diesel vehicles, according to new RAC research.

As the Chancellor prepares to unveil his Budget on Wednesday, a survey of over 2,000 motorists on the RAC Opinion Panel shows 84% of diesel drivers think a hike would be unjust and ineffective.

RAC fuel spokesman Simon Williams said any increase would not stop the UK’s 12 million diesel motorists driving any less and would be unlikely to ease the air quality problem associated with nitrogen dioxide emissions from the fuel.

READ MORE: Tackling poor air quality – what’s your view?

Overall, 55% of panellists said Phillip Hammond would be wrong to solely increase the fuel duty placed on diesel – currently one of the highest rates in Europe at 57.95 per litre.

An overwhelming 78% of those standing against any fuel duty rise say the fact previous governments have actively encouraged the take-up of diesel, means that further punishment is unreasonable.

Businesses too, would suffer as a result of increased costs on their diesel fleets.

In fact, the findings suggest any attempt to raise duty could even prove counter-productive, with 70% of diesel drivers claiming it would not make them any more likely to sell their vehicle in favour of a cleaner model, with 11% saying they would be even less likely to sell it.

Rather than punishing diesel owners with further costs, the majority of motorists would respond more agreeably to incentive-driven options. Almost half (46%) support scrappage schemes, even though question marks remain over their cost-efficiency.

Earlier this month the RAC stressed it was also ‘concerned’ about the potential plans to tax new diesel cars, believing it could deter long distance drivers from swapping their older models to cleaner, more efficient diesel cars.

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An optimistic third of motorists (31%) think the Chancellor should reduce duty by more than 1p a litre; a quarter (25%) think he should freeze it for the rest of the Parliament (until 2022); and 20% would be content with a freeze at the present level until this time next year.

Simon Williams said: “While the Government may think [a fuel duty rise] will further deter people from choosing a diesel as their next vehicle, in the meantime it would unfairly punish existing diesel owners for responding to incentives introduced by a previous Government designed to limit carbon dioxide emissions. Diesel owners will also be concerned that the value of their vehicles will be negatively affected.

“What’s more, private cars are far from being the only cause of our air quality problems and tend to do far lower mileage,” he added.

“Neither should the Chancellor end the fuel duty freeze of the last six years and risk damaging the economy, something the Treasury’s own analysis has found may occur if duty rises. Duty and VAT on petrol and diesel already makes up two-thirds of the price motorists pay at the pump, which surely is a big enough contribution to the Treasury coffers. And at a time when fuel prices are on the rise again due to an increased oil price motorists do not deserve to be taxed any further.”

Copyright Press Association 2017. Motoring News articles do not reflect the RAC's views unless clearly stated.