Last week Tachoblog was having a Twitter conversation with Trucker Desiree about the cost of fuel both here in the UK and in the USA, so when we spotted this piece on www.pressandjournal.co.uk, we thought we should share it with you – especially as we liked the picture so much!
Chancellor Alistair Darling was accused last night of “robbing” motorists after new figures revealed tax on petrol and diesel in the UK is officially the highest in Europe.
The Press and Journal can reveal the Treasury now hits motorists harder than any of the EU’s 27 governments after increasing the tax on petrol alone by almost 10% in the past year.
Excluding duty, Britain actually has the cheapest petrol in Europe – 27.2p a litre.
But the average price at the pumps remained 93.6p in April, a staggering 71% of which is now going straight to the UK Government, compared with 62% last year.
Motorists in Romania pay almost 22p a litre less for petrol than their UK counterparts, despite the fact that the fuel is almost 7p cheaper here before tax.
Last night, politicians, hauliers and motoring organisations rounded on the government and demanded an immediate Commons statement from Mr Darling on what they described as “highway robbery”.
The wholesale price of petrol has almost halved in the past year, from 41.2p a litre in 2008 – when oil prices reached a record high – to just 27.2p last month. During that time, the price at the pumps has come down only 13% because the government claimed an extra 9% in tax.
Despite the huge tax burden, petrol prices at UK pumps remain lower than in countries such as France, Germany and the Netherlands.
However, Britain has the highest diesel price in Europe for the second year running. The pump price here is 101.9p a litre, compared with an average of just 71.4p in Romania.
Again, the tax levied by the Treasury forced the UK to the top of the European tax league table, with 66% of the pump price going straight to the government, compared with the Romanian tax rate of just 47%.
The SNP’s Westminster transport spokesman and Western Isles MP Angus MacNeil said: “The Treasury’s tax take on fuel is modern-day highway robbery, and people in the north of Scotland have had their fill of Labour’s fuel duty increases.
“Instead of trying to bury these figures, Alistair Darling needs to make a statement to parliament justifying why he is hammering hard-pressed motorists and businesses.
“What ministers in London forget is that, for people in areas, a car is a necessity and not a luxury. Pushing up fuel prices is absolutely the wrong thing to do in the grip of recession and these increases will actually hinder economic recovery.
“Just a few weeks ago, the SNP brought forward proposals for a fuel duty regulator to bring down the cost of fuel, but this was voted down by Labour, the Tories and Liberal Democrats.”
A spokesman for the AA said: “This is not unexpected because the government has been very clear that they need to pump up fuel duty to refinance the public purse.
“But there seems to be this belief that if prices aren’t at £1.20 a litre, then we are better off, but the fact is that the more we are taxed at the pumps, the less we have to spend on the high street to restart the economy.”
Phil Flanders, Scottish director of the Road Haulage Association, said the tax and duty on fuel was forcing businesses out of Scotland.
“It forces the price of everything on the high street up, because all goods need to be transported and the extra cost is usually passed on to the customer in the end,” he said.
“The big threat to Scotland is that, because it is so far away from markets in Europe and down south, businesses are reconsidering whether it is cost-effective to remain here.”
A Treasury spokesman defended the government, saying the VAT on fuel, at 15%, was the lowest allowed by the EU and that it was “misleading” to add duty and tax together – despite the fact that the figures were compiled by a government department.
News of the government’s fuel tax record comes amid fears that the gradual recovery of the oil price could send wholesale fuel costs soaring once more.
The oil price reached almost $65 a barrel yesterday, recovering from lows of nearly $32 at the turn of the year, following speculation from Opec’s biggest producer, Saudi Arabia, that the price could again reach the $150-a-barrel high of 2008.
In the past, analysts have blamed the weak pound for the high cost of fuel in the UK as oil is traded in dollars, but this week sterling pushed through the $1.60 mark for the first time in seven months.
Last night, fuel price watchdog PetrolPrices.com warned that the average petrol price in the UK could hit £1 a litre at the weekend for the first time since October.