Reduced fuel duty for remote areas?

THE government is to "consider the case" for reducing the amount of fuel duty paid by remote rural communities.

The Rural Fuel Duty Rebate already gives motorists on remote Scottish isles and the Scilly Isles a 5p per litre discount on their fuel.

Now the government's mid-term review says ministers will consider extending the scheme to include remote mainland communities.

The mid-term review was published by the government on Monday (7 January).

The Cabinet Office said the document reflected on the government's progress towards building a stronger, more balanced economy and a fair society.

It also highlighted a new set of reforms to secure the UK's future and help people realise their ambitions, said the Cabinet Office.

"We will consider the case for extending the rural fuel discount scheme to remote mainland communities," says the document.

One area in the running for reduced fuel duty could be the Lake District.

Liberal Democrat MP Tim Farron – a long term campaigner for a fuel duty derogation for Cumbria – said the South Lakes should be pilot area for a mainland version of the scheme.

The government should "make good" on the mooted possibility of extending the fuel discount scheme to mainland rural communities like those in Cumbria, he said.

Mr Farron wrote to Chancellor George Osborne about the issue last year.

"In rural areas like ours, a car is not a luxury; it is a necessity of life," said Mr Farron. "Fuel costs are a major issue for local families and I am pushing hard to try and make the government act.

"The government have made some welcome moves on this issue, I urged the Chancellor to axe the previous government's planned rises last year - something which he did.

"However, there is still more they need to do to help hard-pressed businesses and families in Cumbria. I want to see the rural fuel derogation pilot brought to Cumbria.

"This would slash 5p off the cost of petrol at forecourts throughout the county."

The mid-term review also contains other pledges.

These include a committment to provide universal broadband access across the UK and an improvement in mobile phone coverage.

Tim Bonner, director of campaigns at the Countryside Alliance, said: "Broadband and mobile phone access are critical to the diversification of the rural economy."


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