Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne has been accused by Donald Crichton, the Western Isles Labour candidate, of attempting to pull a fast one on fuel duty.
Commenting on the Budget announcement that the planned inflation rise in fuel duty due in April is to be delayed until 2012 and that the annual 1p above inflation rise will be scrapped until 2015, said: “I think drivers know a card trick when they see one. Osborne has cut 1p of duty but his VAT rise adds 3p to a litre. When you fill up your car in the Western Isles this weekend remember nearly £1.40 will be going to George Osborne’s VAT rise.
“Also there is no guarantee that the oil companies funding the fuel stabiliser will not pass on the costs to their customers, and when you’re at the end of the supply chain any rise in prices is magnified.”
He continued that the measures will have little impact for the island motorist and do not go far enough. Instead, said the Labour hopeful, there should be a permanent reduction in duty and an exemption on VAT for island residents: “My proposal for a remote and rural rebate for islands motorists would go some way to addressing the price differential between the mainland and the islands and I have every intention of fighting on this issue in the weeks to come.”
Crichton has proposed a pilot scheme, funded by the Scottish government, to deliver a £400 a year rebate to island motorists. He has also called for a full investigation into the uncompetitive nature of fuel distribution.
He concluded: “The budget does nothing for our communities it only underlines the need for a Labour Government in Edinburgh and Labour representation for the Western Isles to protect us from the worst ravages of an ideological assault on our public services.”