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Fuel duty cut in Spring Statement sends the wrong message

23 March 2022

Campaign for Better Transport has warned that the fuel duty cut announced in the Spring Statement today will not help those most affected by the cost-of-living crisis and will do nothing to reduce our dependence on oil or help people make the switch to more sustainable forms of transport.

Paul Tuohy, Campaign for Better Transport’s chief executive, said: “The financial impact of today’s fuel duty cut on people’s pockets will in fact be minimal, whereas the message it sends – that driving is preferable to using public transport - is much more detrimental. Whilst drivers are given help with the cost-of-living crisis, people that rely on public transport get no help with rising fares and face ongoing cuts to services.”

Since 2012, rail fares have risen at a higher rate than fuel costs, yet rail passengers faced a 3.8 per cent increase in fares this month (4.8 per cent in London), despite calls for a fare freeze. Bus fares have risen at a far higher rate, 54 per cent in the last decade. If the cost of fuel for car drivers had risen at the same rate as bus fares, it would cost well over 200p a litre by now instead of an average of 167p.

Campaign for Better Transport is warning that lower income households are bearing the brunt of spiralling travel costs. A third (35 per cent) of the lowest income households have no access to a car. People in the lowest-income households make three times as many bus journeys as people with the highest incomes.

Mr Tuohy added: "The Department for Transport has been busy supporting bus and rail travel, but the Chancellor's announcement today has pulled the rug out from underneath public transport.”

ENDS

For further information please contact the press office on 07984 773 468 (calls only no texts) or communications@bettertransport.org.uk

Notes to Editors

  1. Analysis by the New Economics Foundation shows just seven per cent of the benefit of a cut in fuel duty goes to the poorest fifth of households, whilst a third goes to the wealthiest fifth. In absolute terms it would be worth an average of £1.80 a month to households in the bottom 20 per cent of earners, and £8.20 a month to households in the top 20 per cent.
  2. According to the RAC Foundation, rail fares have risen 26.7 per cent since 2012 and bus and coach fares by 54.7 per cent. At the same time, data on pump prices shows that between March 2012 and March 2022 petrol went up by 19 per cent (from 138.96p to 165.89p) and diesel by 21 per cent (from 146.16p to 177.34p).
  3. 35 per cent of all households in the lowest income bracket have no car as opposed to 14 per cent in the highest (source: DfT transport statistics, Table NTS0703, last updated Sept 2021). People in the lowest household income quintile make three times more journeys by bus than people in the highest income quintile (source: DfT table NTS0705, last updated Sept 2021).
  4. Campaign for Better Transport operates in England and Wales. Campaign for Better Transport's vision is for all communities to have access to high quality, sustainable transport that meets their needs, improves quality of life and protects the environment. Campaign for Better Transport Charitable Trust is a registered charity (1101929).