Fuel duty cut dominates post-Budget debate; Government criticised for failing to be seen to back cycling

Budget 2011: the trade reacts

Sustrans has branded George Osborne’s Budget, delivered earlier today, as disastrous.

The sustainable transport charity blasted the Chancellor for measures focusing on short term gains to garner popular support. By limiting the cost of fuel Osborne has incentivised people to use their cars, failing to provide alternatives to poorer households without access to a car, Sustrans said.

Sustrans policy manager Jason Torrance commented: “Mr Osborne has missed a golden opportunity to invest the £2bn from the oil companies in providing alternatives to car travel. People are now being encouraged to drive in a 1970’s dream that could soon evaporate with a change in the price of oil.

“Sadly he has delivered the budget from behind the steering wheel of a Ford Focus and turned his back on an opportunity to provide alternatives to car use and much needed support to those suffering from the high cost of fuel.

“We do ourselves no favours by continuing to ignore the obvious – oil is a finite resource and will become unaffordable long before it finally dries up. Unless we invest in low carbon alternatives to car use we are facing a divide in society with the majority of people living in transport poverty.”

The Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT) has welcomed the cut in fuel, stating it will ease pressures on distribution firms in the UK.

CILT chief executive Steve Agg said: “This step will assist hard pressed freight and passenger transport operators who have struggled with the consequences of the higher fuel prices resulting from the 35 per cent increase in the price of oil over the last five months, and which are forecast to continue rising.

“Transport costs represent around 15 per cent of the price of food and drink and many other consumer items, and around one third of those transport costs relate to fuel. This cut in duty will help to contain increases in transport costs and their contribution to inflation.”

The CTC has picked up on the move to cut back on tax-relief for Cycle to Work breakfasts, an incentive to encourage employees to bike to work. Roger Geffen told BikeBiz: "The Government is looking at withdrawing the tax-deductable Cycle to Work breakfast, and is entering a period of consultation. So on the one hand the Government has subsidised fuel for cars, but on the other it is looking to withdraw fuel for cyclists. Cycle to Work breakfasts were used by a local authorities and government departments, as well as a number of employers.

"This is a Government that has said it encourages people to cycle, but so far it has abolished Cycling England and now this – withdrawing an initiative they helps employers to encourage employees to cycle to work – it’s usually very popular during Bike Week.

"It’s time the Government encouraged people to get cycling to work – and was seen to be doing so."

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