Budget 2010: Fuel duty phase-in provides relief for fleets
Chancellor Alistair Darling announced that instead of the planned 3p increase on 1 April, fuel duty will rise by a penny next month – less than inflation – and will then go up by one penny in October and the remainder in January.
Mr Darling said: 'This staging will ease the pressure on businesses and family incomes at a time when other prices are increasing.
'By the time the full rise comes in, at the beginning of next year, I am forecasting inflation to be back below 2%.'
Commenting on the move, Professor Stephen Glaister, director of the RAC Foundation, said: 'At last there is some relief for cash-strapped motorists who over the past year have seen the pump price of unleaded leap by 26.4p to almost record levels. With nine out of ten passenger journeys taking place on the roads, and with 28.5 million cars in Britain, every household in the land has felt some financial pain.
'Drivers spend about 15% of their disposable income on motoring and when it comes to fuel prices, every penny really does count.
'If the full planned increase had gone ahead on 1 April, it would have added more than 3p to a litre of petrol. That's an extra £2.50 every time you fill up an average family car like a Ford Mondeo.'
Ken Trinder, head of business development at epyx, said: 'While duty will still rise by three pence, it does mean at least some slight relief for those running company cars and vans, even if those penny rises are likely to look small compared to the underlying diesel and petrol price rises that we are currently seeing.'
However, Edmund King, AA President, said that 'staging the fuel duty increase will avoid a big hit in an April Fuel's Day Fiasco, however a 1p increase will hit still hit motorists hard with record prices at the pumps. Perhaps the thought of 32 million fuming drivers and voters influenced Government thinking.'
BVRLA chief executive John Lewis added: 'Staggering the 3p increase in fuel duty will give road users some respite. In reality, they are still applying the thumbscrews, just a little more slowly.'