Chancellor confirms infrastructure investment, fuel duty freeze

It wasn’t an enormously motoring-centric Autumn statement this year, but UK chancellor of the exchequer George Osborne did confirm that fuel duty is to remain frozen and that the government would fund 84 road-building projects across the country.

As far as fuel duty is concerned, some motoring groups had predicted a return of the fuel price escalator due to crude oil price having fallen in recent months. This would have resulted in higher fuel prices for consumers. Others such as FairFuelUK went as far as calling for an inquiry into the current state of affairs. However, in the end the chancellors said fuel duty will stay frozen at 57.95 pence per litre, the level it has been since 2011.

This comes along with confirmation that the government is investing £1.5 billion in 84 road infrastructure projects across the country.  The includes plans for 1,300 new lane miles on motorways and trunk roads, in order to tackle congestion and fix some of the most notorious and longstanding problem areas on the UK road network. Both points are likely to result in positive(if slight) impact on miles driven – something that is important to those looking to assess tyre demand in the year to come.

The facts that business rates relief doubled for a further year, and inflation-linked increase in business rates was capped at 2 per cent are positive for small business owners. Furthermore Osborne confirmed that there will be a full review of the structure of business rates. There will also be an increase in rates discount to help high street shops, pubs and cafes – up 50 per cent to £1,500 – next year.

In response to the statement Simon Elliott, the managing director of leading commercial vehicle supplier MAN Truck & Bus UK welcomed Mr Osborne’s infrastructure investment: “The UK’s priority must be to invest in improved roads and inter-city links. We are pleased that Mr Osborne recognises this and we look forward to seeing how his proposals are rolled out.”

Details of the 2014 UK budget, which was presented in March, can be found here.

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