MOTORISTS reacted with fury yesterday after The Sun revealed Chancellor Rishi Sunak may increase fuel duty by 5p in his autumn Budget.
He is looking at ending a ten-year freeze on the tax.
This would automatically add 2p to a litre at the pumps, in line with inflation.
But a Treasury source says there are plans for an extra 3p hike on top of that.
This would cripple those whose livelihoods rely on driving — including many northern voters behind Labour’s Red Wall, who in December’s General Election voted Tory for the first time.
The Sun has been fighting their corner since 2011 when we launched our Keep It Down campaign.
We have helped ensure fuel duty has stayed at 58p per litre since then — and are not about to give up now.
Here, we hear from some of those who would be most affected by Rishi’s tax grab.
Self-employed scaffolder and van driver Keith Bretherton, 46, lives in Leigh, Grtr Manchester, where at the last election the Tories smashed Labour’s 97-year grip on the town. He voted Conservative — but feels let down.
He said: “It’s outrageous. Boris promised to look after areas like us. But then they hit us when a lot of people are struggling.
"This will hurt the working man. It is workers who will get the country back up but then we get more tax. It feels like a rip-off.”
Leslie Harrison, 74, from Leigh, said: “The town voted Tory and this is how we get repaid. Boris said he was going to look after people who voted Tory for the first time.
"But a lot of low-paid manual workers rely on cars for work and this is going to clobber them. It doesn’t feel right.”
'PAY FOR LOCKDOWN'
Sitting in his van in Leigh, self-employed plasterer Steve Kirkham, 60, was also upset — but philosophical.
He said: “This will hurt me, as I use the van a lot for work. It will hit the working man.
“I voted Tory so it does feel a bit disappointing but I knew we would have to pay for lockdown. And to be fair, the Government looked after me in lockdown.”
Beryl Hankin, 76, has since 1971 owned the Guru Boutique in Darlington, Co Durham — which the Tories won in December for the first time in 27 years, with a 3,000-plus majority. But she fears a fuel-tax hike could strangle the high street.
She said: “This will mean more people continue to work from home, which will impact on footfall in the town and possibly reduce custom in our shop.
"The Government is meant to be encouraging people back to work. This is not the way. It will also affect prices, as goods will cost more to transport.”
Katie Williams, a mum of two young children, worries the hike would impact her cleaning firm, Dust Divas, just as she is trying to rebuild it after the pandemic.
Katie, 31, from Newport, south Wales — where Labour held both the city’s two seats but with reduced numbers — said: “I would vote against the Tories in future if this is going to take place.
“My firm is just trying to get back on track and this would really hit us.
“You’d think they would be more lenient when companies are trying to recover — 5p might not sound much but it adds up if you drive all day. I’ll have to increase the workers’ fuel expenses.
“The pandemic has affected everyone but I don’t see why they should increase fuel costs. They should look into a different way.”
Alex Williams, is a 34-year-old marketing manager from Bolton, which saw big swings to the Tories in December.
Bolton North East went blue for the first time in 27 years, the Tories held Bolton West and increased their majority by nearly 8,000 votes, while Labour held Bolton South East but by a lower margin.
Alex said: “I have been working from home through lockdown and saved so much money on my commute, which is a round trip of around 100 miles to Yorkshire and back.
“This fuel tax hike would not encourage me to go into work at all — it would be so much cheaper to stay at home.
“It would impact the hard-working people most, which is simply not fair.
“If the Government is intent on getting people back into town centres, this flies in the face of that. It would have all kinds of knock-on effects.
"I’m not sure this is what people voted for in a Conservative government — a tax that targets the people who work hard. It feels like another kick in the teeth for the hard-working people of this country.”
Philip Jobling, 69, a retired bus driver, voted Tory in South Shields as Labour held on at the last election but with a 15.9 per cent fall in their vote share.
He reckons if driving gets too expensive, older folks will have to risk catching Covid on public transport.
'DISASTROUS FOR SMALL BUSINESSES'
He said: “They are more at risk from Coronavirus and I feel a lot safer going out and about in the car than on public transport. So why are the Government going to make this more difficult?
“Surely it’s better for me to continue to try and minimise contact with others?
“I use the car to visit my family and I don’t want to see them less. I’ve paid taxes all my life and it just feels that there are constantly new ways for us to be left out of pocket.”
Adrian Daniel, 55, also of South Shields, owns valeting firm Squeaky Clean and uses a van for work.
He said: “This could be disastrous for small companies like mine.
“I worked right through the lockdown, doing all I could to keep the business going but there’s still many places that won’t let me on site to carry out work.
"This is not the time for additional tax — many places are only just surviving and this could mean the end.
“I have no choice but to use the van, I couldn’t walk or use a bike.”
These readers, and The Sun, urge Chancellor Sunak: You MUST keep fuel duty down.
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