Chancellor’s fuel duty cut disadvantages public transport passengers

22 March 2022

Campaign for Better Transport has warned that a fuel duty cut in tomorrow’s Spring Statement will not help those most affected by the cost-of-living crisis and will do nothing to reduce our dependence on oil or tackle climate change.

Paul Tuohy, Campaign for Better Transport’s chief executive, said: “A cut in fuel duty will only serve as a temporary respite for richer drivers and do little to help those on the lowest incomes who may not even own a car. Rail fares have risen at a higher rate than fuel costs and bus fares have risen twice as fast, yet public transport passengers have not been given any help with the cost-of-living crisis. If the Chancellor really wanted to help households weather the current storm and address our dependence on oil, he’d make public transport cheaper so people are not forced to rely on their cars.”

Since 2012, rail fares have risen at a higher rate than fuel costs, yet rail passengers faced a 3.8 per cent increase in fares this month, despite calls for a fare freeze. Bus fares have risen at a far higher rate, 54 per cent in the last decade. If fuel had risen at the same rate as bus fares, it would cost well over 200p a litre by now instead of an average of 167p.

The transport charity is warning that lower income households are bearing the brunt of spiralling travel costs as a third (35 per cent) have no access to a car and make three times as many bus journeys as people with the highest incomes.

Mr Tuohy added: “The Government has wisely invested in a national bus strategy to improve local buses, but unless it does something to address high fares, its investment will be wasted.”


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Notes to Editors

  • Analysis by the New Economics Foundation shows just seven per cent of the benefit of a cut in fuel duty goes to the poorest fifth of households, whilst a third goes to the wealthiest fifth. In absolute terms it would be worth an average of £1.80 a month to households in the bottom 20 per cent of earners, and £8.20 a month to households in the top 20 per cent.
  • According to the RAC Foundation, rail fares have risen 26.7 per cent since 2012 and bus and coach fares by 54.7 per cent. At the same time, data on pump prices shows that between March 2012 and March 2022 petrol went up by 19 per cent (from 138.96p to 165.89p) and diesel by 21 per cent (from 146.16p to 177.34p).
  • 35 per cent of all households in the lowest income bracket have no car as opposed to 14 per cent in the highest (source: DfT transport statistics, Table NTS0703, last updated Sept 2021). People in the lowest household income quintile make three times more journeys by bus than people in the highest income quintile (source: DfT table NTS0705, last updated Sept 2021).
  • Campaign for Better Transport operates in England and Wales. Campaign for Better Transport’s vision is for all communities to have access to high quality, sustainable transport that meets their needs, improves quality of life and protects the environment. Campaign for Better Transport Charitable Trust is a registered charity (1101929).