The majority of the British public feels that keeping the cost of petrol down is more urgent than reducing the deficit, with many supporting the proposed introduction of measures to make fuel prices more stable.
- 60% think it is more important to keep fuel prices low then to tackle the deficit
- A significant 32% disagree with this order of priorities and would put cutting the nation’s debt ahead of dealing with petrol costs
- 73% would support the introduction of a ‘fuel stabiliser’, which would keep fuel prices constant by reducing the level of tax on petrol as the cost of oil rose, and vice versa
- Just 11% would oppose such a stabiliser
Petrol prices have also affected how regularly many of our panellists use their cars, while others have had to make cutbacks elsewhere to allow continued use of their cars.
- 41% say they have cut back on using their car due to rising petrol prices
- While 25% say they have reduced spending elsewhere to deal with the additional cost
- Only 5% said they had purchased a smaller model of car to deal with the problem
Is a ‘fair fuel stabiliser’ feasible?
Petrol prices increased to another record high recently due to a combination of increased oil prices, increased VAT and fuel duty. Even before the formation of the Coalition Government, the Conservatives had been looking into the feasibility of a ‘Fair Fuel Stabiliser’, in which duty on fuel would inversely reflect the price of oil.
To this end, David Cameron is in talks with the Treasury but has admitted that the move is ‘not simple’. However, Robert Chote, Head of the Office for Budget Responsibility, states that ‘a fair fuel stabiliser would actually be likely to make the public finances less stable rather than more stable’, agreeing that if the Government lowered petrol prices, it would need to increases taxes elsewhere.
Notwithstanding, the Coalition has faced criticism for both failing to keep its pledge to stabilise fuel prices and effectively contributing to higher costs by approving the 2.5% VAT rise which came into force on January 4th.