EVERYWHERE you look, hard-working Sun readers are being hammered by the cost of living.
Energy bills, council tax, parking costs, phone bills, food bills — up, up, up.
A fuel-duty freeze drives the economy Rob Halfon writes
Millions of people work hard day and night, yet come home to brown envelopes with yet more demands to pay.
Given all this, you would think the Government would be doing everything possible to cut the cost of living, rather than increase it.
Inexplicably, though, the out-of-touch political elite at Westminster — who may have chauffeurs to drive them about — are now talking about raising fuel duty.
This would not only hit motorists but businesses, supermarket prices and public services, all of which depend on cars, vans and lorries as part of their daily work.
First it was Labour transport spokesman Andy McDonald, who last month told a conference that in order to deal with climate change Labour would put up fuel duty, which is a classic example of environmentalism being balanced on the backs of those on lower incomes.
Then, on Tuesday in the House of Commons, Chancellor Philip Hammond implied that fuel duty might have to be raised because of an apparent loss of tax revenue to the Exchequer.
Yet what Mr Hammond said goes against the Treasury’s own reports, which showed how the fuel-duty freeze has actually brought MORE money into the Exchequer.
TREASURY COULD RAISE CASH ELSEWHERE
A Treasury study in 2014 showed that a continued freeze over 20 years would mean our economy would grow by between £4.5billion and £7.5billion.
GDP would go up between 0.3 per cent and 0.5 per cent per year. Investment would be two per cent higher.
Moreover, work carried out for the respected campaign group Fair Fuel UK showed that household expenditure is £24.2billion higher per year due to the fuel-duty freeze.
Even if the Chancellor is right about the loss of revenue, it is not as if the Treasury could not raise money elsewhere.
Are the rising costs for the North to South rail project HS2 — possibly now over £50billion — really value for money?
PA:Press Association The Chancellor implied he might raise fuel duty – going against the Treasury’s own reports that show the freeze has brought more money into its coffers
What about our bloated overseas-aid budget?
I am all for helping vulnerable countries but why, for example, are hard-pressed taxpayers sending £64million to Rwanda, for the Rwandan tourist board to sponsor Arsenal Football Club for £30million?
How about recognising that in times of economic hardship at home — and Brexit turbulence — our priority must be for our fellow countrymen and women, striving day by day to earn an honest crust and provide a decent standard of living for their families?
When millions of our families and businesses face uncertainty and anxiety because we still do not know how or when we are going to leave the EU, surely now is the worst possible time to even consider raising taxes for motorists?
The anti-car brigade, of course, welcomes any fuel-duty rise and demands people use public transport instead.
They forget that public transport is not readily available everywhere and that families and small businesses depend on cars, vans and lorries. Every time petrol and diesel prices go up at the pumps, or fuel duty is raised, it does not just affect 37million drivers.
It is a disaster for big and small businesses, particularly because of haulier costs.
These companies would have less money for investment, wage increases and new jobs.
A fuel-duty freeze means higher bus fares too, because of the increased cost of diesel.
It impacts on the price of food, because of the cost of transportation. Less money is spent on the front line on our NHS, police and fire services because rising fuel prices are a huge cost for these vital public services.
I will never forget hearing stories about motoring commuters from my constituency of Harlow, Essex, sleeping in their cars overnight because they could not afford to drive home to see their families — because of the prices at the pumps.
DUTY FREEZE IS OUR MOST POPULAR POLICY
Government fuel duty is a regressive tax.
It hurts the poorest Brits twice as hard as the rich.
We know that fat-cat oil companies are already ripping off motorists at the pumps by delaying price decreases when the international oil price falls. A fuel-duty increase just makes things even worse. Our country already has sky-high petrol and diesel prices, since we pay duty of 57.95p per litre for both petrol and diesel, then VAT at 20 per cent is charged on the total.
Since 2010 the Conservative Government has done the right thing.
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Fuel duty was cut by George Osborne and frozen ever since — the ninth year in a row, saving families many hundreds of pounds.
It has been our most popular policy.
Why on earth would the Chancellor want to change that?
Theresa May promises to freeze fuel prices again during her Conservative Party conference speech