Today the House of Commons will discuss whether or not to go ahead with the planned 3p fuel duty rise in January. It’s a price rise that could be the last straw for many struggling households.
There’s no doubt that a 3p rise in fuel duty would hit millions of hard-up consumers with the most unwelcome New Year’s present imaginable.
At Which? we’ve been monitoring consumer trends, and we know that fuel prices are now the number one consumer worry. In fact, fears about rising fuel costs have risen by 9% since July, to a record figure of 85%.
Nearly four out of 10 people said they’re trying to cut back on car running costs, and one in 10 admitted that they’ve had to dip into their savings to pay for car costs in September.
Cutting back on car costs
I know just how they feel. I’m also looking for ways to cut back on spending money on my car. In September I had to make twice weekly trips from one side of Kent to the other. I soon realised that if I did the motorway stint at 60mph instead of my usual 70mph I could save £10 on fuel for each return trip.
I’ve had to look for cheaper ways of getting my car fixed too. Faced with a £120 bill for getting a new headlight fitted by a local garage, I found myself hanging around in a Halfords car park on Saturday afternoon, hoping to take up their offer of fitting any bulb for £5.
I wasn’t in luck on the day, as they were too busy to fit my car in, but I’ll be dropping my car off there soon to get the bulb replaced on the cheap.
Families can’t afford a fuel duty rise
Still, I’m in a far more stable position than thousands of other people right now – putting up fuel prices could be the final straw for many families struggling to buy food, heat their homes and pay their mortgages. Overall household budgets are under huge strain at the moment – our Monthly Consumer Tracker found that 8.7m households curbed their spending on essentials last month.
The government needs to focus on putting money back in their pockets, rather than increasing fuel duty. Struggling families need a helping hand at the moment, and another financial blow could finish them off. Does the government need to rethink the planned fuel duty rise in January?