- Ending fuel duty freeze would raise enough revenue over current Parliament to treble NHS budget for doctors and nurses for one year.
- Freeze in fuel duty since 2011 has cost the Exchequer more than £50 billion
- Freeze has triggered an extra 5 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions
Ending the freeze in fuel duty would raise much needed revenue and demonstrate that the UK is serious about tackling climate change.
New analysis by Greener Journeys shows that the Government’s nine-year freeze in fuel duty has caused an extra 5 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions by encouraging people to abandon public transport in favour of their cars.
The freeze in fuel duty since 2011 has cost the Treasury more than £50 billion in revenue foregone. The freeze has also led to 5% more traffic, 250 million fewer bus journeys, 75 million fewer rail journeys, an extra 5 million tonnes of CO2 and an extra 15,000 tonnes of NOx emissions.
The Treasury previously estimated that the Government had foregone £46 billion in revenues through to 2018/19 by choosing not to implement scheduled rises in petrol and diesel since 2011, and that a further £38 billion would be foregone over the next five years. The Treasury estimated that the freeze in fuel duty 2011-18 had cost the Government twice as much as we spend on all NHS nurses and doctors each year.
At a time when the NHS urgently needs more doctors and nurses to help tackle the Coronavirus, the Chancellor must consider all means to raise additional budget.
The Chancellor must end the freeze in fuel duty on 11th March. This will both raise urgently needed revenue and demonstrate that the UK is serious about meeting its net zero target. Transport has become the biggest emitting sector of the UK economy responsible for 27% of greenhouse gas emissions. Transport emissions are rising largely because people are driving more.
Claire Haigh, the Chief Executive of Greener Journeys, said:
“The Chancellor must take the opportunity this week to deliver the UK’s first ever ‘Climate Change’ Budget. As hosts of this year’s COP26 UN Climate Summit, the UK must show leadership on reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Ending the freeze in fuel duty would send a clear signal around the world that the UK is serious about meeting its net zero target.
Ending the fuel duty freeze would also raise urgently needed revenue at a time when the UK is struggling with the Coronavirus, impacts of flooding across the country and its ‘levelling up’ agenda. By nudging people to switch some of their car journeys to bus or train, ending the freeze would also support the public transport networks that are so vital for improving life chances for everyone in society.”
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Notes to Editors
- About Greener Journeys
Greener Journeys is dedicated to encouraging more sustainable travel. We undertake research into the social, economic and environmental benefits of public transport, and campaign for those benefits to be realised. Our work allows everyone from policy makers to industry executives to individual passengers to make positive and evidence-based decisions about how people travel www.greenerjourneys.com
- About the Research
The Unintended Consequences of Freezing Fuel Duty was originally published by Greener Journeys in 2018 and demonstrated the wider impacts of the freeze in fuel duty 2011-18. The research has been updated to take account of the continuation of the freeze in fuel duty. As a direct result of the freeze in fuel duty since 2011:
- Traffic has grown by 5% causing more pollution and congestion
- The increase in traffic has produced an extra 5 million tonnes of CO2 emissions
- The increase in traffic has produced an extra 15,000 tonnes of NOx emissions
- Freeze has led to £250 million fewer bus journeys and £75 million fewer rail journeys
- The nine year freeze has cost the Treasury more than £50 billion. Freezing fuel duty costs the Treasury approximately £7 billion every year in revenue foregone.
The freeze in fuel duty has been damaging for public transport networks by making it cheaper in relative terms to drive. Encouraging greater use of public transport is a proven way of lowering emissions and improving the life chances for everyone in society. A double decker bus can take 75 cars off the road. Previous research for Greener Journeys has shown that a 10% improvement in bus service connectivity is linked to a 3.6% reduction in social deprivation.