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Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced that fuel duty is to by cut by 5p a litre.
The change comes into effect from 6pm this evening and will be in place until March 2023.
Other announcements made in the Chancellor’s Spring Statement include a rise in the National Insurance threshold, meaning people must earn £12,570 before paying income tax or National Insurance – something Mr Sunak says will equate to a tax cut worth over £330 a year.
He also announced the first cut to the basic rate of income tax in 16 years - from 20% to 19% - by the end of this current Parliament in 2024.
Reacting to the announcments, Northern Ireland’s Finance Minister, Conor Murphy says the Chancellor’s statement does not go far enough to support people and businesses facing spiralling fuel and energy costs.
“The Chancellor’s statement provides nowhere near enough support to people and businesses struggling with the rising cost of living,” he said.
“Despite inflation being at a 30 year high, the Chancellor is tinkering on the edges.
“Increasing the threshold for National Insurance contributions will help mitigate the impact of the hike on workers on the very lowest incomes, but the Chancellor should have gone further by scrapping his planned increase in National Insurance entirely.
“The reduction in fuel duty for motorists is minimal. A 5p reduction will be of little comfort to motorists given that petrol and diesel prices have increased by over 20 and 30 pence per litre respectively since the start of this year.
“At a time when households are facing spiralling costs to heat their homes today’s statement fails to reduce VAT on energy bills or uprate benefits.”
The Minister continued: “It is hugely disappointing the Chancellor is proceeding with the removal of the red diesel rebate. With businesses, our construction and agri-food sectors in particular, already facing increased prices this additional tax burden couldn’t come at a worse time. The Chancellor could also have imposed a windfall tax on energy companies but he chose not to."
Northern Ireland will receive £34 million Resource DEL in Barnett consequential for 2022-23 as a result of the announcement today. Commenting on this, Minister Murphy added: "I have asked the Chancellor to consider ring-fencing any additional Barnett for the cost of living crisis. This may enable me to allocate the money for similar support here.
“My request remains under consideration. Therefore this £34m will be added to the £300 million which in the absence of an Executive cannot be allocated to help families, communities and businesses."
The Finance Minister concluded: “With households struggling to heat their homes and fuel their cars, the actions that the Chancellor has taken are extremely limited. Much more could and should have been done. I will continue to press the British Government to take further measures as a matter of urgency.”