Fuel protestors bring M4 to standstill

ended 04. July 2022

This morning, the M4 was brought ‘to a standstill’ as people protest against soaring fuel prices. We asked small business and charity owners how they are being impacted by fuel prices, and whether they think the Government is doing enough to combat rising fuel prices. Their responses are below and will appear here until 5pm.

14 responses from the Newspage community

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The Chancellor simply MUST do something. Spiralling fuel prices mean that people have to get second jobs in order to afford to go to work for their first. The UK’s army of temporary workers, which so many businesses are reliant on right now, can’t afford their journeys to work. Gig economy workers who are on the road delivering our parcels, our takeaways, and ourselves in the case of private hire drivers, cannot afford to work. People need to be able to earn money, and the economy needs people to be able earn money. Action is clearly needed as the last fuel duty cut simply didn’t cut it.
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If there is no let up soon, our work will grind to a halt. We have to travel to tend our fish everyday. Four evenings a week we collect supermarket surplus food to save it from waste and to feed those in need in our community. We used to spend £15 a day on fuel, we are now spending £25. There is no more money coming in. More people are asking us for help as their money is going on fuel instead of food. What's going to happen if we can't afford the fuel to go and get the food? I would like to see a cut on fuel tax that actually gets passed onto the customer and a limit on how many price increases can happen within a month, with a maximum price that can be charged.
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Tomorrow's headline: M4 brought to standstill as environmentalists protest potential cut in fuel duty.
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I think there needs to be a substantial cut in fuel duty but I can see it is a double-edged sword. 5p per litre as he did last time makes no real impact on consumers and is soon just swallowed up in price rises. 20p per litre would make an immediate short-term impact (as would reducing VAT on fuel) but it also needs international pressure on the oil producing countries to substantially increase supply. Increase the supply and the price goes down. That result from the oil producing countries is hard to achieve though, as turkeys don't vote for Christmas. I don't envy the Chancellor. There is no magic pill but he must do something, and do something quickly as we are at crisis point.
A simple fix is to cut fuel duty, VAT and put a cap on profits. Fuel duty, which is now set at 52.95p a litre, represents roughly 28% of a litre of petrol. Add VAT at 17% and it doesn't take a mathematician to realise 45% of what we put in our tanks is tax.
The chancellor should bring capital gains tax in line with income tax rates and scrap the CGT allowance. That tax revenue should then be used to reduce the tax burden of workers in the lower income distributions. That way, the people that need help the most get the benefit rather than a fuel duty cut across the board, benefiting all those that don't. There's plenty of money floating around the economy; there's simply too much of it in too few hands.
I am finding more new clients are wanting mobile appointments because they are struggling to afford to fill up their motors with fuel, or their previous/current hairdresser/beautician is giving up mobile appointments due to the fuel crisis. Unfortunately I have had no option but to raise my prices for mobile appointments, too, simply to cover my extra diesel costs. It means some elderly and disabled people who cannot leave the house are becoming out-priced for personal care and pampering.
Rishi Sunak should cut fuel duty significantly. There's an argument that the effect on the government's coffers would be negligible anyway because people are driving less to save on fuel. A big cut, as long as it was passed on by the petrol stations, would get people driving more.
I don't envy Sunak. He's between a rock and a hard place. We all want fuel prices to go down, but there is no guarantee that a reduction in fuel duty will be passed onto those who need it, as it seems that's what happened last time. When the economy in on the precipice of a recession, the Chancellor will not want to reduce his tax take either. All of the money spent supporting the economy during Covid will need paying back and fuel duty is a big ticket item. If a further tax cut was passed onto drivers, it could really help. Not only personal drivers would benefit, but costs for businesses would go down, too. Putting pressure on forecourt owners not to profiteer will be a difficult though, as the Government doesn't have the necessary levers to make this happen.
Jacob Rees Mogg and the fuel protestors, the Luddites of today? Are we simply seeing the wheel of change turning whilst some cling desperately to old fashioned methods that are become obsolete? Rather than focussing on trying to turn back the clock perhaps we would all be better looking to the future. Fuel prices are getting to obscene levels forcing many to eat into already restricted household budgets. The solution however is not in demanding prices fall at a time of high demand, but to reduce the demand. Remote and Hybrid working offer the solution, at least in part, to the fuel crisis. Reduced commuting results in reduced demand which in turn impacts the supply/demand situation and naturally lowers prices, whilst at the same time saving many families. It might also help us get somewhere near our carbon target's as well! Jacob Rees Mogg and co would have us believe that offices are the only way that work can be conducted, but large cities and office based working are a relatively "new" concept brought about by the industrial revolution. Prior to then most people worked from home in the countryside. It was only the need for large work forces in factories that drove the growth of the towns. Reversing urbanisation will enable levelling up across the country, help with the housing shortage in certain areas, reduce carbon emission's and help level the work place for working parents. So rather than blockading roads, petrol stations and refineries, perhaps we should be looking seriously at our own workplaces and spaces.
Fuel prices are absolutely insane at present, and our Government absolutely can — and should — be doing something about it. The energy companies have recorded huge profits yet again, but while they have a captive audience of people forced to rely on fossil fuels for transport, it is little wonder they feel no sense of urgency to invest in and promote more sustainable options. Around half the cost of each litre goes straight in to the Government's coffers, so they aren't really that interested in doing anything either. "Public" transport is also unfeasibly expensive, along with being utterly unreliable and inconvenient. But here again, we have a Government that simply doesn't care. Why should they, when their travel is paid for by us anyway? I can only afford to attend events I can walk to these days, and I have noticed that attendance is similarly down, with only the most local of people coming along as vendors or purchasers. I really want to find something positive in all this, but I'm struggling.
The government are happy with the current situation. Lots of tax income, no threat to the Tory leadership, why would they do anything practical? This is the beginning of a massive change in society, where humans are replaced by robots and automation in the workplace. Best get your headspace sorted now, to cope with the massive change to come.
It seems stunningly obvious to me that cutting VAT rates on fuel is entirely within Rishi Sunak’s capabilities and should be done without delay. VAT paid by consumers is paid from earnings that have already been taxed through PAYE and NI contributions. It is also an output tax. If fewer people fill up their tanks there will be less output tax to collect. He is already collecting fuel duty and therefore most of the pump price goes to the Chancellor, so he will end up shooting himself in the foot. Whilst he’s at it, he could look at upping the 45p per mile rate which has been stuck at this level for years.
This is effecting everybody, the only question is to what extent. I have no idea how people who are starting new jobs, who aren't paid their first wage until they've been there 2 months are managing to afford to get to work - imagine if on top of that, there's an expectation that you use your car too - it currently can't be done. I'm someone who is lucky enough to largely work from home, and even I'm rethinking my strategy. I'm an artist and whereas last year I was happy to travel to events further from home to make contact with new audiences, this year I'm really mindful that I need to add the cost of travel onto the cost of the show before deciding if its financially viable. Christmas during a recession was always going to be hard without this. The government needs to act quickly on this one, it needs to drop fuel duty and vat as a matter of urgency - it also needs to address the forecourt practice of responding to an increase in the price of the barrel by putting up the price immediately but being much more tardy in dropping the price when the barrel price goes down.