Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Fingers crossed for some sense on fuel prices

This is one of what is becoming a series of blogposts written in half an hour of my lunch break. Hopefully this will force me not to ramble on at ridiculous length.

I was very pleased to see in the news that MPs will be having a parliamentary debate petrol prices.
This is thanks mainly to a petition on the government petition website reaching the requirement of 100,000 signatures. A while back I talked about how I thought that high petrol prices were hurting the economy and how the government needs to lower them. The debate will, according to the BBC, focus mainly on whether or not to scrap Januarys increase in fuel duty but there is also a proposal to scrap the VAT increase on petrol.

All I can say is that it's good that this is being debated in parliament. When people on low incomes are spending a high percentage of their wages on petrol just in order to get around (and let's not forget, the state of the public transport system in this country means that anyone not living in a city does need a car) then it will only lead to them cutting back on spending elsewhere - exactly the opposite of what the economy needs right now.

On top of that, the increase in fuel prices has actually cost the treasury money because people are quite literally being priced off the road and therefore the government gets a lower amount of net tax from petrol sales (not to mention the loss of revenue from road tax, VAT on insurance policies, etc).

So hopefully our MPs will show some sense and at least take measures to keep fuel prices static so at least people won't be burdened with even more demands on their finances at a time when most people have gone without pay increases for three years.

One other thing I quite like about this is that it shows that the new petition system is actually working and that parliament will at least listen to the public even if they won't always decide to do what they want. It's certainly a marked improvement on the No. 10 petition website from the Labour era where it didn't matter how popular a petition was as they were all ignored - predictably leading to people not taking the petition website seriously. In short, a typical New Labour example of style over substance.

And that at least I think we can say is a general improvement of this government on the last one. I don't agree with a lot of what this government is doing but at least they've stopped Labour's patronising tradition of spin and vanity projects designed to distract the public and consume a lot of money without doing anything.


  1. "let's not forget, the state of the public transport system in this country means that anyone not living in a city does need a car"

    Usually true (some people in rural locations do have buses). But not necessarily the gas-guzzler they are probably currently using - or mis-using.

    Most car users could cut their fuel consumption significantly by modifying their driving style and, when needing to replace the vehicle, choosing one more fuel efficient than their previous one. And remembering that the long term trend in fuel prices when/if the economy recovers wil be up.

  2. @Anonymous

    When it comes to rural areas I think my village is a good example - it has a bus service but buses back to the village from the nearest town stop running at 5pm, making it impossible for anyone to live in the village and work in the town while using public transport.

    It's all very well to say people should buy more fuel efficient cars, but how many people can justify or afford the expense of buying a new car at the same time as they are seeing their other outgoings increase? When you get people spending a tenth of their income on petrol alone just in order to be able to complete essential journeys then it's obvious that's something's wrong.

    I absolutely agree that people can make adjustments to reduce their fuel usage but, by the same token, I'd much rather see lower fuel prices (or at least static in real terms) which would bring in higher revenue for the government which could then be invested in better public transport and ways to help people switch to more efficient vehicles.

  3. "It's all very well to say people should buy more fuel efficient cars, but how many people can justify or afford the expense of buying a new car at the same time as they are seeing their other outgoings increase?"

    George - I wrote - on purpose - 'when needing to replace the vehicle' in my original comment.

    I was not suggesting that people should go out and replace their car long before their current one needs replacing. If they are not changing their car they can still cut down on fuel usage through sensible driving and combining trips e.g. doing the shopping on the way home form work. As a long-time rural resident I've been doing that sort of thing for years.

    When it is necessary to replace the car then the Department of Transport website has masses of information on fuel comsumption and emissions at http://www.dft.gov.uk/vca/fcb/index.asp

    So one can take this data into account when buying a replacement vehicle - and get one which is at least more fuel efficient than the last one!

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