The planned 3p rise in fuel duty in January has been cancelled, the Chancellor has confirmed in his Autumn Statement today.
The government had come under increasing pressure to scrap the rise, which would have hit motorists’ pockets by adding 3p to the cost of a litre of unleaded petrol and diesel from the start of next year. According to Chancellor George Osborne, this could save families from having to splash out an average of an extra £144 per year.
In effect, the fuel duty rise has only been deferred until August 2012, when another 2p rise was due to take place. That’s now been cancelled, so in effect fuel duty will only go up by 3p next year. Fuel prices will not necessarily remain constant, but rises will be at the whim of oil companies and petrol stations.
R&D tax credit system reviewed
The Chancellor also confirmed that the research and development tax credit system would be reviewed. The present system discourages UK companies from spending money on developing new products, and the automotive industry has joined other sectors in lobbying the government for a change to this system to stimulate growth and safeguard jobs.
“Reform of the R&D tax credit system propels the UK into a new league of global competitiveness sending a strong signal to international investors,” said Paul Everitt, chief executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). “The UK is already a centre for innovation with advanced engineering and low carbon expertise attracting major corporations to invest in the UK; this reform will enhance the UK’s investment appeal, create high value jobs and drive economic growth.”
Another announcement was £5 billion for infrastructure projects, with some of that cash specifically set aside for managed motorways and A-road improvements and a go-ahead for 35 road and rail projects across England.
Among the road projects will be an immediate £20m to reduce congestion on the A14 plus another £110 million to widen the A14 Kettering Bypass between Junctions 7 and 9. The government will invest approximately £165 million in a new dual carriageway road linking the M56 at Manchester Airport to the A6 south of Stockport.
The A453 between Nottingham, the M1 and East Midlands Airport will be widened in a £160m project.
About £270m will be set aside for new managed motorway schemes: to use the hard shoulder to increase capacity on the M3 in Surrey, and the M6 along part of the route between Birmingham and Manchester.
The government will invest £100m to accelerate current major projects planned on the M25 (Junctions 23-27) and the M1 (Junctions 39-42). The M1/M6 junction region will get a major revamp to the tune of £150m.
£170m will be set aside for local transport projects, and £220m for smaller schemes to reduce bottlenecks.
Other plans involve a new Lower Thames crossing, improvements to the M4 in south-east Wales and changes to the A1 at Elkesley in Nottinghamshire.
The road project news was met with caution by industry experts. Simon Best, chief executive of the Institute of Advanced Motorists, said: “While today's announcement will help, we need serious and sustained investment across the UK's road network. Our roads are crying out for basic maintenance. Crumbling roads and potholes are a serious problem and a road safety hazard."