Fuel duty hike will penalise North as petrol prices soar – The Yorkshire Post says

RISHI Sunak’s dilemma over fuel duty in the Budget takes on added significance after petrol prices reached an all-time high of 142.94p a litre due to global fluctuations and the cost of diesel at filling stations inched towards its previous record level of 147.93p.

Petrol prices have reached record prices on the eve of Rishi Sunak's Budget where the Chancellor will have to decide whether to increase fuel duty - or not.

Some will contend that the proximity of the COP26 climate summit – and the need to bring some order to the public finances – justifies the Chancellor breaking recent convention and increasing duties.

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But this newspaper believes that the Richmond MP should resist this because of the extent to which rising prices are exacerbating the cost of living crisis and hitting the North’s economic recovery. It would also be contrary to the wider levelling up agenda. For, unlike London and other areas well-served by public transport, poor provision here – a legacy of decades of under-investment – leaves families, including the less well-off, even more dependent on their cars each day.

Will Chancellor Rishi Sunak raise fuel duty in this week's Budget?

Any rise in duty – a national tax – will have a detrimental and disproportionate impact on families here who are amongst the least able to afford additional hikes, a point made clear by Jake Berry, the former Northern Powerhouse Minister, in his strongly-worded pre-Budget submission to Mr Sunak on behalf of the Northern Research Group of Tory MPs. “Cars for our constituents aren’t a luxury Chancellor, they are a necessity,” he wrote.

And while Mr Sunak says “there is no reason why somebody working in the North and Midlands should have to wait several times longer for their bus or train to arrive in the morning compared to a commuter in the capital” as he announces funding for specific local schemes, his reluctance to commit to Northern Powerhouse Rail or the eastern leg of HS2 is ominous if Yorkshire – his adopted county – is to reduce car use, and harmful carbon emissions, in the drive towards net zero.

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Fuel duty will be a key announcement in Rishi Sunak's Budget. It is also one aspect of policy that has not been leaked in advance.