Lib Dems call for fuel duty cut to be extended to Wales’ rural areas
Fuel duty should be cut in Wales’ rural areas to ease the pressure on families facing sky-high prices at the pump, ministers have been told.
Analysis by the Liberal Democrats suggests households in rural areas paid £114 in transport costs each week in the year to March 2020, almost £40 more than those in urban areas, equating to an extra burden of nearly £2,000 per year.
The party is calling for an expansion of the rural fuel duty relief scheme, which is currently offered in a handful of remote areas of the UK, to places where “public transport options are limited and drivers are being disproportionately hit by rising fuel prices”.
This would include Devon, Cornwall, Cumbria, Shropshire as well as Wales, they said.
The scheme currently covers 17 areas of England and Scotland, including parts of the Highlands, Argyll and Bute, Northumberland, Cumbria, Devon and North Yorkshire, but no areas in Wales.
The Lib Dems also want the relief to be doubled to 10p a litre.
Tim Farron, the party’s rural affairs spokesman, said: “The Government must act now to help rural families on the brink, by expanding the fuel duty relief scheme.
“Ministers need to also crack down on the petrol profiteers who are cashing in on people’s misery at the pump.”
‘Cutting fuel duty’
It comes as the Business Secretary has ordered an “urgent” investigation into petrol station operators amid concerns some are pocketing the multibillion-pound cut to fuel duty announced by the Chancellor in March.
In a letter to the Competition and Markets Authority, Kwasi Kwarteng wrote that people were “rightly frustrated” that the 5p-a-litre reduction had not stopped prices from soaring.
A Government spokesperson said: “We understand that people are struggling with rising prices which is why we have acted to protect the eight million most vulnerable British families through at least £1,200 of direct payments this year with additional support for pensioners and those claiming disability benefits.
“Through our £37 billion support package we are also saving the typical employee over £330 a year through a tax cut in July, allowing people on Universal Credit to keep £1,000 more of what they earn and cutting fuel duty by 5p saving a typical family £100.”
Plaid Cymru also asked for a ful duty cut in Wals’ rural areas last month.
Ceredigion MP Ben Lake called at Prime Minister’s Questions for the Rural Fuel Duty Relief scheme to be extended to Wales in order to help workers in rural areas.
“Rising fuel costs are causing serious problems for workers in car-dependent rural areas such as Ceredigion, and for carers and district nurses the situation has reached a crisis point,” Ben Lak said.
“One carer from Ceredigion often has to travel 29 miles just to reach her first service user of the day and travels about 1,700 miles each month.
“Will the Prime Minister, therefore, consider extending the rural fuel duty relief scheme to areas such as Ceredigion to help my constituent and many like her to continue their invaluable work?”
Boris Johnson replied to thank Ben Lake for his “excellent question”.
“Rural fuel duty relief is there to compensate motorists by helping retailers in some more remote rural areas where pump prices can be significantly higher,” he said.
“It currently operates on a geographical basis, but I am happy to ensure that he gets a meeting with the relevant Minister as fast as possible.”
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