Chancellor axes 3p fuel duty, ATS-E urges decrease
UK chancellor George Osborne has scrapped – or at least, postponed – the planned 3p rise in fuel duty in his Autumn Statement. With reports suggesting that UK mileage is holding reasonably steady, this represents a crumb of short-term comfort for businesses and motorists, though the Office for Budget Responsibility prediction of stagnant growth will keep the pressure on the UK economy. Though fuel price campaigner Quentin Willson welcomed the news, arguing “money that's spent on fuel duty is not spent on the wider economy”, it seems likely that campaigns to reduce fuel duty will also continue, since the chancellor will continue to be pressed to take gambles to help kick-start the UK economy. Tyre service specialist ATS Euromaster is amongst those calling for reductions in fuel duty, while PwC’s automotive expert also pointed out that the fuel duty rise is still due to happen on 1 September 2013.
Phil Harrold at PwC commented: “The cancellation of the 3p per litre fuel duty rise that was planned to come in 1 January 2013 will be welcome news for both the motorist and the car industry. However, the Chancellor also said that the 2013/14 increase will still happen, albeit deferred until 1 September 2013. It is quite clear that this is only a temporary reprieve for the already squeezed motorist and the real focus and investment should be driven by Government and industry to develop more cost-efficient vehicles, alternative fuels and extra support for those manufacturers working hard to achieve this.”
ATS Euromaster calls for fuel duty reduction
While today’s announcement of cancelled fuel duty was welcomed, ATS Euromaster said Osborne had merely “avoided delivering a hammer blow to the economy”. The tyre service provider suggested “what we really needed to hear was a three-six pence per litre (ppl) reduction in fuel duty to encourage growth and consumer spending, whilst reducing distribution costs to everyone’s benefit.”
ATS Euromaster Group managing director Ian Stuart argued: “We’re technically out of recession, but the country is still desperately trying to get back on its feet and the cost of fuel is dragging businesses and motorists down. Scrapping the fuel duty increase is a positive step; but a 3-6ppl reduction would have given the country a far bigger boost.”
ATS-E said the chancellor had “bowed to pressure from FairFuelUK and millions of voters by scrapping the planned rise in fuel duty. Operating 1,200 vehicles itself, having recently emphasised mobile coverage in its strategy, ATS-E made the point that, including VAT at 20 per cent, “this will help to keep pump prices down by almost [four pence per litre] and comes at a time when motorists are paying near record prices on the forecourt.”
ATS-E recommending tyre pressure checks to save money
ATS-E also used the occasion of the Autumn Statement to remind motorists of the role tyre checks can play in reducing fuel costs. The company recommends tyre pressures be checked at least once a month and before any long journey. Michelin says that car tyres under-inflated by 15 psi (one bar) have increased rolling resistance leading to around six per cent greater fuel consumption.
Wheel alignment should also be checked annually, and after any violent shock to a vehicle’s tyres, according to ATS-E. Incorrect wheel alignment results in tyres pulling in different directions, which can mean rapid uneven tyre wear and reduced fuel economy, as well as affecting handling and safety. While Osborne also committed £1 billion to road improvement schemes in his Autumn Statement, the timing of this level of spending is testament mostly to the current shoddy state of Britain’s highways, making the argument for regular alignment checks even more compelling.
Stuart explains: “Tyre condition directly impacts on fuel efficiency. It doesn’t matter whether you are driving a car, van or truck – get your pressures and wheel alignment right, and you’ll save fuel. Checking tyre condition isn’t just about vehicle safety; it’s about being kinder to your wallet and to the environment. The savings are there for the taking – it’s a no-brainer to take advantage of them.”