Petrol and diesel prices are currently at a three-and-a-half year high, despite the fact that we’ve had seven years, and eight budgets where fuel duty has been frozen – the fuel duty freeze is estimated to have cost the Treasury around £7 billion since its 2011 starting date.

The freeze in fuel duty means that, on average, we’re paying 13% less than we could be; looking at our Top 10 most expensive places, that could mean prices as high as 158.0ppl.The changes put forward propose a 13% rise in fuel duty, leading to an extra 8p per litre, making tax 71.28p per litre, a huge figure.

The downside

A report by Greener Journeys has stated that road users are paying too little for the use of the roads when compared to the cost associated with them, these costs include: congestion, accidents, local air pollution, noise, greenhouse gas emissions, harm to the landscape and biodiversity.

The static fuel duty has led to a 4% increase in traffic growth, which in turn has meant higher congestion and increased pollution; an additional 4.5 million tonnes of CO2 and 12,000 tonnes of NOx are all directly contributable to the fuel duty freeze according to the study.

And thanks to the ‘low cost’ of fuel, public transport usage has dropped by between 1.3% – 3.9%, which equates to about 60 million fewer rail journeys, and 200 million fewer bus journeys. It’s worth noting that from the financial year 2019/20, the Government has stated that fuel duty will increase in line with the Retail Price Index. Greener Journeys say this has to be an absolute minimum if it’s to “send the right price signals to consumers”.

But what about the motorist?

Less than a month ago, we wrote about the families having to choose between food or fuel, in fact, 38% of respondents in an AA survey were having to adjust their driving/spending habit as a result of increasingly high petrol prices, how high would that number be if fuel was 8p a litre more expensive?

Averagely speaking, that’s almost an extra £250 per year on a fuel bill, around 1,300 fewer miles, or to put it another way, 6 weeks of no car usage whatsoever. That really is unacceptable.

Vehicle ownership is not a luxury. For many of us, it’s an absolute necessity; public transport infrastructure isn’t yet at a stage where the majority of us could give up our car, society has been developed around personal transport (think out-of-town retail centres), and busy lifestyles lead to minimising travel/maximising efficiency.

The roads policy spokesman for the RAC, Nicholas Lyes has firmly stated that the Government should consider helping the motorist out, and reduce fuel duty, going so far as to ask whether deliberately raising fuel prices will actually stop people driving, or just make those motorists without a viable alternative “significantly poorer”?

He also gave a warning – taxation of the motorist via fuel duty is not viable long term, thanks to increasing use of hybrid or electric vehicles, finding an alternative is likely to be “controversial, and potentially, a political time bomb”.

What will a price increase mean to you?

The good news is that despite the recommendations of the Greener Journeys report, the whole issue of fuel duty is so politically toxic that you can almost guarantee that any political party will tread carefully around the subject – it’s very doubtful that we’ll see a rise to 71.28p a litre fuel duty overnight.

However, we’re still paying near to eighty percent tax on fuel, excluding VED, and the price of oil is rising almost daily, so despite the best efforts of the Government, fuel prices are at a high, and we’re the ones paying the price.

Along with the regular advice of downloading the PetrolPrices app, ensuring that your car is mechanically sound, and looking out for deals through local supermarkets, we’d also encourage you to think slightly longer term; tyre choices are a great starting point.

A tyre’s rolling resistance can account for about 30% of a vehicles fuel consumption, researchers in Germany have calculated that someone driving around 20,000 miles per year could save as much as £200 on their fuel bill, just by switching to a green tyre. Of course, it only really makes sense if you need to replace your tyres anyway.

Added to that, if your car has roof bars or rack, it’s very much worth removing them for your daily use – these can affect your fuel consumption by as much as 25% (dependent on configuration and vehicle). Imagine gaining an extra 10mpg, for free?

What would happen to your motoring mileage if fuel was 13% more expensive? Do you think that the Government may take heed of the RAC’s advice about lowering fuel duty? Can you think of a better way to tax motorists? And what will happen when the electric cars overtake the fossil-fuels?

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