LABOUR would whack a £9billion tax on motorists by hiking fuel duty, the party’s transport boss indicated yesterday.
Andy McDonald said the Government’s nine-year fuel duty freeze is “not a sensible approach” when bus and rail fares are increasing.
In a speech to the Institute for Government he also signalled Labour would increase Air Passenger Duty (APD) – hiking the cost of holidays.
The decision not to raise fuel duty in line with inflation has cost the public purse around £9 billion a year, according to the independent Institute for Fiscal Studies.
Mr McDonald said yesterday: “Consider these points about where the burden falls on transport users.
“Fuel duty frozen since 2010 at a cost of more than £50 billion; air passenger duty (APD) in aviation broadly frozen over a similar period; rail and bus fares up by more than a third.
“This is not a sensible approach to transport policy.”
But later a Labour spokesman contradicted Mr McDonald’s comments, saying: “Labour is not pledging to increase fuel duty.”
‘BLANT DISREGARD FOR RAIL USERS’
Tory MP Robert Halfon, who campaigned for the fuel duty freeze, warned: “It is hard to believe that Labour once the party of the workers would launch an all out assault on hard pressed motorists and crucify working people by putting up the cost of living for ordinary folk.
“A fuel duty rise would hit the NHS and food prices too because of the increasing costs of transportation, and small businesses would be crucified at a time when we need to keep costs low.”
Tory MP Douglas Ross, chair of cross-party FairFuelUK campaign, said: “This announcement by the Labour party shows a blatant disregard for road users, especially those in more remote and rural areas.
“For many people, diving is the only method of transport available to them. Increasing fuel duty would be narrow minded and hit families and businesses right across the country.
“Yet again it is clear that, if the Labour party were in power, they would punish drivers and ignore the impact this would have for millions of people in the UK.”
It is hard to believe that Labour – once the party of the workers – would crucify working people by putting up the cost of living for ordinary folk.
APD is levied on airline passengers aged 16 and over who are departing from UK airports.
The rate for long-haul passengers is £78 in economy and £156 in premium seats, with short-haul trips charged at £13 in economy and £26 in premium.
No duty is paid on direct long-haul flights from Northern Ireland.
Motoring and aviation groups have called for duty on fuel and flights to be cut, but environmental campaigners say the levels should be increased.
AA president Edmund King said motorists “support reasonable measures to improve air quality” but claimed a hike in fuel duty would be “seen as an attack on the economy”.
He added: “We need to promote incentives for drivers to switch to greener vehicles rather than looking at measures to tax them more.”
RAC fuel spokesman Simon Williams said: “Tax, including VAT, already equates to around two-thirds of the price of a litre so raising fuel duty above its current level of almost 58p a litre would almost certainly have a very negative impact on the economy.
“Any move like this would hit those who can least afford it the hardest, particularly if they rely on their cars for getting to work.”