"Everybody knows that we need to cut fuel duty, but at least the Government is on the side of the motorist. They have overseen a historic freeze in fuel duty, and cut it by 1% over the last 3 years. Yet the price of petrol remains stubbornly high-it is now 60% higher than it was in January 2009, and 800,000 families spend over a quarter of their income filling up their car." (Robert Halfon MP is pictured outside No 10 holding the FairFuelUK poster)
"We are in an ‘oil shock’. Petrol prices remain high due to the global price of crude oil, which, after inflation, increased by 50% since 2009. Over the past 3 years, I have regularly raised my concerns that companies have kept the cost of fuel artificially high through a number of means, such as creating ‘petrol deserts’. And where oil prices have fallen internationally, companies have been slow to pass on savings to motorists. The news that the European Commission is now investigating some oil-giants over allegations of price-fixing is deeply concerning. Last year, I pushed for the OFT to investigate these practices, but their investigation was limp-wristed. Unfortunately, a lack of competition in the industry and poor regulation has meant that, until now, oil companies have managed to get away with it.
If the allegations are true, oil companies have potentially added thousands of pounds onto the price of fuel for the average motorist. There must be a proper British-led investigation alongside the one by the European Commission, with tough consequences for offenders. This means prison for individuals found guilty of price-fixing, and a windfall tax, with proceeds passed onto the motorist at the pump via lower fuel duty.
Of course, we mustn't forget that tax still makes up 60% of the cost of fuel. With inflation continuing to rise, and wages remaining stagnant, people’s budgets are squeezed. High fuel prices put up the cost of everything. And when 71% of us rely on our car to get to work, owning a car is an expensive essential, not a luxury. So, it isn't surprising that research by the Resolution Foundation shows that people place a drop in the cost of essentials, such as fuel, as the number one thing that could help to improve their standard of living. I am grateful for the work that Quentin Wilson and FairFuelUK have done in supporting me with these campaigns, which has been enormously helpful in increasing pressure on the Government.
I believe the Treasury must go further and continue to cut fuel duty. But I also believe that a major weapon in our arsenal against greedy oil companies is transparency. The price of oil must be published in an accessible way for all to see. But transparency works both ways. That is why I have been working closely with FairFuelUK, pushing for fuel receipts to display how much of a motorist’s bill is made up of tax, and what percentage of that tax is being spent on the roads. This will not only hold big oil companies to account, but will also act as a deterrent for any future increases in fuel duty.
Rip-off fuel prices are hurting millions of UK motorists at a difficult time. The Government must continue to show that it is on the side of motorists. Fuel duty must continue to be reduced, there must be more transparency, and we must give out tough penalties to anyone who has manipulated the price of fuel and in doing so stolen from hard working, struggling UK families."
Robert Halfon MP
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