What the General Election means for motorists: The measures that party candidates back for drivers, from higher fuel taxes to a diesel ban
Will tax on cars and fuel increase? What additional charges will diesel vehicle owners face? What investment will be put into the country’s roads?
There are all questions that remain unanswered ahead of today’s General Election, with politicians widely refraining from divulging information about plans that will affect the nation’s 37 million motorists in the build up to the vote.
But work by campaigning group Fail Fuel UK has cast light on each of the major party’s standpoints, identifying which ones plan to ramp up the cost of car ownership if they motor into power on June 9.
Diesel debate: Which parties are calling for an increase in fuel duty and which want to see diesel cars banned from the road in less than a decade’s time? A new survey of candidates by Fair Fuel UK has given some insight
Some 37,000 supporters of the fuel campaign were tasked to contact their local consistency candidates earlier this week – 1,323 responded to a six-question poll focused primarily on petrol and diesel costs and potential levies and bans on diesel vehicles.
After reviewing the feedback, Fair Fuel UK gave its backing to the Conservative Party, which appeared more reluctant to increase fuel costs and ban diesel cars than rivals.
Speaking about the results, Howard Cox, founder of the campaign, said: ‘It seems Tory Party candidates in our survey are against fuel tax hikes or further demonisation of diesel in the next Parliament.
‘Good news perhaps, but, the lack of policies for motorists and small businesses in the party manifestos remains very chilling. Why the secrecy?
‘What is the next Government planning so covertly for hard-working families and white van drivers after June 8?
‘Are they to remain the Treasury’s cash cows for the next 5 years and have to put up with the highest of taxes and lack of investment in our roads?’
The pre-election survey found that all 240 Tory Candidates who responded to the survey wanted to see a cut (67 per cent) or freeze (33 per cent) in fuel duty.
Fair Fuel UK has been calling for fuel duty to be reduced in recent years – a third of Tory candidates agreed with their standpoint Almost three quarters of Conservative candidates were against a Toxic Tax policy, while the Liberal Democrats and Green Party were in favour. Labour representatives seemed to be on the fence The T-Charge will come into force from October in the capital, though there are plans to extend diesel-focused surcharges for those driving in London and other cities across the country
That compared to 80 per cent of the same number of Labour candidates who wanted to see tax on petrol and diesel remain consistent or reduced, though 12 per cent backed fuel duty to increase.
Tax on the fuel we pump into our vehicles has been frozen at 57.95p per litre since January 2011, with Chancellor Philip Hammond committing to it remaining that way until April 2018.
With the average cost of petrol and diesel around 116.8p and 117.1p per litre, according to PetrolPrices.com on June 7, it means almost half of the money we pay at the pump is collected by the Treasury.
But some will be concerned that fuel duty could still increase under Tory leadership.
The Liberal Democrats have called for all diesel cars to be banned in the next 8 years, though only the Green Party shared this opinion In November, the High Court ordered ministers to cut nitrogen oxide levels in the ‘shortest time possible’, leading to a raft of new suggestions to curb diesel-vehicle use in some of the most congested regions of London The UK Independence Party and Labour representatives said they were considering other means to improve air pollution in the country
During his last budget in March, the Chancellor warned that he would ‘explore the appropriate tax treatment’ for diesels ahead of the Autumn statement, which could mean additional taxation for diesel fuel or additional vehicle and excise duty on diesel models.
Despite these tax-based focus on diesels, Conservative representatives unanimously disagreed with Liberal Democrats plans to rid the roads of diesel cars altogether by 2025.
The study also found that 96 per cent of UKIP and 73 per cent of Tory candidates do not support a toxic tax policy aimed at high-emissions vehicles – in particular diesels driving in heavily congested areas.
This compared to 43 per cent of Labour, 60 per cent of Lib Dems and 88 per cent of the Greens who backed the introduction of an urban toxic tax, which has a number of diesel owners worried.
Earlier this week, the Society of Motor Manufacturer and Traders confirmed a significant drop in diesel sales during May.
It was the second consecutive month of dwindling vehicle registrations in the UK, with the nation’s motorists reluctant to buy cars in light of potential surcharges and bans on diesel models, as well as a scrappage scheme aimed at removing the most polluting diesels from the road – something that wasn’t mentioned as part of Fair Fuel UK’s survey.
Diesel registrations slumped 20% in May. It means that diesel sales in the first 5 months of 2017 are down 8.8%
Motoring journalist and Fair Fuel UK spokesman Quentin Willson, said: ‘Voting for a party that increases fuel duty, reduces road building, bans sales of all diesel cars and vans and increases taxes for drivers means you will be helping sign a death warrant for the UK economy.
‘With Brexit, rising inflation, epic congestion and economic inertia the last thing the UK needs are ill-informed politicians who will burden our transport-based economy with higher costs.
‘This election isn’t about political ideologies but keeping our fragile economy moving.’
Around half of Lib Dem candidates backed more investment into the nation’s roads Fair Fuel UK has been campaigning for an independent body to monitor and regulate vehicle fuel pricing – something most bar the Green Party are behind The government responded to a petition in April calling for an independent fuel price regulator: ‘Government monitors fuel prices and both rises and falls in crude oil price reach the pumps within 7 weeks. A competitive market is the best way to keep prices low; a new regulator is not necessary’
In a separate report out this week, the Institute of the Motor Industry said the majority of businesses in the sector were finding it increasingly difficult to fill thousands of job vacancies while the political future of the nation was ‘in turmoil’.
Motor firms based in the UK are having to upskill existing staff to fill the void of new workers who appear reluctant to enter the industry while the country is negotiating Brexit deals that could have a serious impact on the automotive sector, the report claimed.
The IMI warned that there could be a serious roadblock in the uptake of new motoring technology if the skills gap is not addressed rapidly.
It added that recruitment and training is vital to the impending success of the UK market and it is pinning its hopes on the training levy introduced by the Government earlier this year to give businesses the freedom to invest in developing staff.
Steve Nash, chief executive at the industry body, said: ‘We have a big hurdle to overcome in attracting new talent to the sector and we hope whoever comes into power on 9th June will look at this issue with some urgency to make sure the UK does not fall behind in the automotive ‘arms race’.’