It’s a borderline judgment whether to pay any attention to today’s budget. The general election will almost certainly be called on Tuesday 6 April, so there’s a good chance this budget will never be enacted.
Indeed, should the Conservatives win on 6 May, there’ll be a new, much wider ranging ‘emergency’ budget in the summer.
That said, the motorist didn’t get too much of a kicking today, but faces bigger taxes in the future. The feared 3p rise in fuel duty will now be phased in ‘with an increase of one pence per litre on 1 April 2010, one pence per litre on 1 October 2010, then 0.76 pence per litre on 1 January 2011’.
However, Alistair Darling also says that he intends to increase fuel duty by one pence per litre ‘in real terms’ every 1 April from 2011 to 2014. The April Fool in that statement is ‘real terms’.
That really means a one pence increase on top of inflation. Which, if it happened today, would be more like a 3 pence hike.
With the newspapers full of pothole stories, it was good local politics to announce a £100m fund for filling them in. Remember that when Labour canvassers start knocking on doors next month, householders (me included) are likely to say ‘look at the state of these roads’. Whether £100m will go very far remains to be seen.