‘Conservatives’ Set to Further Squeeze Middle England in Tax Plan to Fund Higher Spending

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Reported government plans to squeeze motorists of even more cash to fund spending rises have been slammed by campaigners pointing out that UK drivers are already “the highest taxed in the world”.

The criticism came after it was reported that moves to raise duty on fuel and alcohol are “under serious consideration” by Conservative ministers in order to help fund a cash injection of £20 billion pledged by the reputedly lower tax and spending party for the National Health Service (NHS).

According to The Guardian, Prime Minister Theresa May is “close to” lifting a fuel duty freeze estimated to have saved motorists around £46bn since it was brought in eight years ago.

With car drivers and businesses in November having expressed significant relief at news in November that the policy — one of the Tories’ most high profile — would be continued, ministers’ plans to scrap the freeze is likely to face significant opposition from Conservative backbenchers.

Former skills minister Robert Halfon, a leading campaigner against ending the fuel duty freeze, said the Treasury would be hitting “hard-working white van men and women” with the move.

He added that international oil prices have already inflated petrol and diesel costs more than 13 pence over the past year, as he called on the Government to look at cutting overseas aid rather than “making life harder for struggling families”.

Describing ministers’ reported plans as “wrong-headed”,  the Harlow MP warned that scrapping the freeze would “hit motorists, businesses and increase transport costs for all”.

Fair Fuel UK founder Howard Cox said the proposal would be political suicide for the Government, pointing out that “the UK’s 37 million drivers are still the highest taxed in the world despite eight years’ freeze”.

It has been noted by commentators that there is a “big divide” over car ownership in the UK, with figures showing that the proportion of motorists in left-wing, multicultural cities like London and Manchester is tiny compared to provincial Britain.

According to DVLA data published last year, Tower Hamlets has the fewest cars per person, including the UK capital, with just 0.14 cars registered per head in the London borough.

With the Home Office and Ministry of Defence also demanding their budgets be increased, ministers were also reported to be looking at lifting the freeze on alcohol duty announced in last autumn’s budget.

While Britain already has the fourth most heavily taxed alcohol in Europe, revenues have been “drying up”, the Financial Times reported in September, with overall consumption having fallen by 17 percent since 2004.

Figures show a huge rise in the proportion of young people in Britain who do not consume alcohol at all, with the BBC stating that “demographic trends … appear to have contributed” to the change, with Muslims accounting for a significantly larger share of the youth demographic than of older age groups.

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