28 January 2011

Sharing the pain

Motorists hit by the soaring cost of petrol could be spared the 1p a litre rise in fuel duty due to come into force in April. Sharing the pain of rising oil prices between the Treasury and the motorist through the ‘fair fuel stabiliser’ is also still being considered, it was confirmed yesterday. Cancelling the 1p tax increase would cost the Treasury around £600million in the next financial year at a time of acute belt-tightening in the public finances. But Chancellor George Osborne is planning to help cash-strapped motorists either by scrapping the rise or by reforming the fuel tax system through the stabiliser. (Daily Mail, 28 January 2011.)

Sharing the pain between the Treasury and the motorist? What does that mean but sharing it between pensioners and younger people, whether taxpayers or on benefits? Or, actually, sparing those on benefits from any pain at all, and making sure that it is only pensioners, university graduates and the middle class (so-called) in general who are squeezed until the pips squeak. If the Treasury subsidises motorists at all, it will have to take the money to do so away from some other sector of the population. We know that pensioners are the preferred milch cows (from, among other things, David Willetts’s book The Pinch).