I understand drivers’ concerns regarding fuel prices. Therefore, I welcome the Chancellor’s decision to maintain fuel duty at current levels until spring 2024, spending £5 billion on a tax cut worth £100 per driver this year. This has been achieved by keeping the 5p cut in fuel duty that was introduced last year, as well as cancelling the scheduled 11p increase in fuel duty. This continues the policy of successive Conservative Chancellors dating back to 2011 of freezing fuel duty.
As you are aware, based on evidence gathered as part of the Road Fuel market study, the higher prices drivers are paying at the pumps appear in part to reflect some weakening of competition in the road fuel retail market. Following the completion of the Road Fuel Market Study, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is now seeking to establish a compulsory open data requirements and a new ‘fuel monitor’ oversight body. The fuel monitor would observe prices and margins on an ongoing basis. At present, retailers only provide information on prices at the petrol stations themselves and as such, it is hard for drivers to compare prices and competition is therefore weakened. The fuel finder open data scheme would need to be underpinned by legislation, therefore the Government will consult on this scheme and an ongoing road fuels monitoring function.
More broadly, let me assure you of the Government's support for motorists, the majority of people in the UK use their cars to get around and are dependent on that freedom. Latest estimates show that in 2021, 91 per cent of people use a car at least once a month. For this reason, the Government has announced a new plan to support people who drive, by keeping motoring costs under control and ensure everyone has the freedom to drive as they need to.
As you know, these measures include updating guidance on 20mph speed limits in England to prevent their blanket use in areas where it’s not appropriate, and amending guidance on low traffic neighbourhoods to ensure local consent. As part of the review into low traffic neighbourhoods, the Government will consider measures for existing anti-driver policies that did not secure local consent. The plans also aim to stop councils using CCTV cameras to limit drivers unfairly, consulting on ways to prevent schemes which aggressively restrict where people can drive.
Ultimately, I believe that the Government is committed to ensuring that decisions impacting motorists are both proportionate and made with the consent of local residents so that drivers are able to go about their everyday lives without unnecessary impositions.