Calls mount for rural fuel discount

RURAL residents pay more to fill up their cars than their urban counterparts, reveals new research.

Diesel is 4p per litre more expensive at rural filling stations than at stations in urban areas, the study found.

The research was undertaken by the Countryside Alliance, which called on the government to take action on fuel costs.

Coupled with longer distances between home, work and essential services in the countryside cars are becoming an "unaffordable rural necessity, it said.

The alliance said chancellor George Osborne should tackle the rising cost of fuel for the good of the rural economy in this month's budget.

To calculate the price differences, researchers selected 30 councils listed by the government as "very rural" and 30 classed as "Major Urban".

Using the council town hall as the postcode, they then used the price comparison website to find out diesel prices within a five mile radius.,

Residents living in Purbeck and Ryedale fared worst, with 146.9p for a litre of diesel being the lowest price in their area.

City dwellers are far more fortunate, with drivers from North Tyneside, to Birmingham, to Dartford benefiting from a pump price of 139.7p.

Alliance executive chairman Barney White-Spunner said all prices were exact at the pump as of 28 February.

"Not only do people living in rural areas have to drive further to go to work, further to access essential services like schools, doctors and the supermarket; but they have to pay a lot more for their diesel to do so.

"The cost of fuel is a major concern for everyone who lives in the countryside, and cars are fast becoming an unaffordable necessity for many rural families.

"We urge the chancellor to help the rural economy get back on its feet and to cut fuel duty in his forthcoming budget."

The findings came as the Country Land and Business Association said the government's rural fuel discount scheme should be extended.

Residents and businesses in the Highlands and Islands and the Isles of Scilly have benefitted from a 5p per litre cut in fuel prices since the beginning of March.

The CLA said rural businesses and communities in the north of England should benefit from an extension of the scheme.

CLA director Douglas Chalmers said: "There are large remote areas across the entire north that would benefit from this."

In the run-up to the budget, there was much discussion about the best way to stimulate the economy, said Mr Chalmers.

"Rural-based businesses are significantly disadvantaged by being further from road and rail networks and often with poorer broadband availability.

"Raw materials in, and products out have further to travel, and most people are dependent on private transport.

"A 5p cut would go a long way to improving their competiveness."

A report by the Centre for Economic and Business Research for FairFuelUK suggests a 2.5p cut in fuel duty would create up to 175,000 jobs.

Mr Chalmers said: "We mustn't forget that a reduction in fuel duty would also have a direct affect on everyone who lives in rural communities.

He added: "This one change would make a tremendous difference to families as well as businesses."


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