Chan­cel­lor could in­crease fuel duty for diesels while cut­ting petrol tax

The Daily Telegraph - - News - By Kate Mccann SE­NIOR PO­LIT­I­CAL COR­RE­SPON­DENT

DIESEL driv­ers could face a fuel duty tax rise in the Bud­get while petrol mo­torists en­joy a cut un­der plans be­ing con­sid­ered by the Trea­sury, The Daily Tele­graph un­der­stands.

A num­ber of op­tions are un­der con­sid­er­a­tion, in­clud­ing changes to ve­hi­cle ex­cise duty which could hit driv­ers who al­ready own diesel cars in­stead of those who buy new mod­els.

Philip Ham­mond wants to be seen as the green Chan­cel­lor, sources close to the Trea­sury said, and he is un­der pres­sure from Cab­i­net col­leagues to an­nounce plans to curb dan­ger­ous emis­sions in his Bud­get this month.

Michael Gove, the En­vi­ron­ment Sec­re­tary, re­port­edly wants ex­tra charges to be levied on any­one who buys a sec­ond-hand diesel car if they live in an area with high lev­els of emis­sions. This would go fur­ther than ex­ist­ing plans to in­crease duty on new diesel cars.

The clean air strat­egy hinted at a new diesel tax and Mr Gove is un­der­stood to have asked of­fi­cials to ex­plore how such a levy could work.

The ex­tra duty could be paid by the new owner when a change in own­er­ship was reg­is­tered, it is un­der­stood.

An­other op­tion would be to in­crease fuel duty for those who drive diesel cars to en­cour­age peo­ple away from the tech­nol­ogy be­fore a ban on new mod­els. In an ef­fort to sway pub­lic opin­ion in favour of the con­tro­ver­sial de­ci­sion min­is­ters are un­der­stood to be con­sid­er­ing plans to cut fuel duty on petrol ve­hi­cles at the same time. The tax has been frozen in suc­ces­sive Bud­gets be­cause the prospect of in­creas­ing it prompts fury among driv­ing groups.

Cam­paign­ers fear a fuel duty rise would dam­age small businesses as lor­ries and vans run on diesel – adding to al­ready ris­ing costs.

A num­ber of se­nior Con­ser­va­tive MPS have also warned against such a move, in­clud­ing Rob Hal­fon, a for­mer Gov­ern­ment min­is­ter. He said the coun­try needed a “de­fence min­is­ter” for mo­torists, not for their wal­lets to be hit hard with new taxes.

Ed­mund King, the pres­i­dent of the AA, said: “It is ridicu­lous to fur­ther de­monise diesel via dif­fer­en­tial taxes when driv­ers are al­ready vot­ing with their wheels. Some 41 per cent of AA mem­bers own diesels but that drops ... to 16 per cent when driv­ers are asked what fuel their next car will run on.”

David Bi­z­ley, the RAC’S chief en­gi­neer, dubbed the plan “a ter­ri­ble, mis­judged knee-jerk re­ac­tion”.

The re­ports comes amid claims that Mr Ham­mond is shield­ing his Bud­get plans from No 10 in a bid to block calls for him to loosen the purse strings. A se­nior Gov­ern­ment source how­ever dis­missed re­ports of tension be­tween the Prime Min­is­ter and her Chan­cel­lor last night. The two are said to be work­ing closely on the Bud­get.

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