13th June 2022
The Liberal Democrats have called on the government to expand rural fuel duty relief to help drivers in rural areas like Shropshire bearing the brunt of record petrol prices.
It comes as official figures uncovered by the party show households in rural areas pay £114 a week on transport costs, almost £40 more than those in urban areas.
It means that rural households are shelling out almost £2,000 more a year on transport than those in urban areas.
Petrol prices have risen to a new record high of 182.3p a litre, meaning the cost of filling a typical 55 litre petrol car has risen to over £100.
Fuel duty relief is currently offered to fuel retailers in remote parts of the UK where prices at the pumps are higher. This includes Scottish islands, areas across the North of Scotland, the Isles of Scilly and three postcode areas in England but none of these are in Shropshire. The relief of 5p per litre of petrol or diesel is then passed on to consumers through reductions in fuel prices. Currently, only 10,500 residents in England live in areas benefiting from the relief.
The Liberal Democrats have said the support provided under the scheme should be doubled to 10p a litre, and for it to be significantly expanded to cover other rural areas where drivers are being disproportionately hit by rising fuel prices. This would include Shropshire, rural areas in Wales, Devon, Cornwall and Cumbria.
In addition, the Liberal Democrats are demanding an emergency cut to VAT from 20% to 17.5%. Combined these measures would save a typical driver in rural areas £7.60 each time they fill up their car, or almost £200 a year for those who fill up their car twice a month.
Liberal Democrat MP for North Shropshire Helen Morgan said: “Poor public transport connections mean that people in Shropshire often have no choice but to drive and spend over £100 filling up their cars to do so.
“At a time where fuel prices are rocketing, bus services have been slashed across North Shropshire and forced people to use cars more than ever.
“Families across the country are struggling with the spiralling cost of living but it’s people in rural areas that are suffering the most.
“That’s why the Government must act now to help them and expand the fuel duty relief scheme to include Shropshire and similar rural areas.”
Liberal Democrat Rural Affairs Spokesperson Tim Farron said: “People in rural communities are bearing the brunt of these devastating fuel price hikes, yet the Conservative government is refusing to lift a finger to help.
“Instead ministers have overseen a steady decline in rural bus services that has left people even more dependent on their cars to get around.
“It shows yet again how families in the countryside are being taken for granted by Boris Johnson and the Conservatives.
“The government must act now to help rural families on the brink, by expanding the fuel duty relief scheme. It’s also time for ministers to crack down on the petrol profiteers who are cashing in on people’s misery at the pump.”