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What the 2021 Autumn Budget means for motorists

A fuel duty freeze and investment in electric car infrastructure head the UK Government’s October announcements

The UK Government has cancelled its plans to end a 12-year-long freeze on fuel duty with its 2021 Autumn Budget, with Chancellor Rishi Sunak stating that he was “not prepared to add to the squeeze on families and small businesses". It means that fuel duty – the tax applied to petrol and diesel – will remain 57.95 pence per litre, equating to about 40% of the cost the average motorist will spend to fill up their car. 

The government said the duty freeze saves car drivers an average £15 per fill up, but since the comparison is with a hypothetical price hike, in reality, it means things will stay as they are. This comes at a time when fuel prices are at an eight-year high, thanks largely to the jump in demand for fuel since the lifting of lockdown measures in July. As of 28 October, the average price per litre for petrol is 142.94 pence, which for a car with a 42-litre tank – like the Ford Fiesta – means it costs £60.03 to fill an empty tank. Ouch. 

Not surprisingly, the recent rise in prices for petrol and diesel have played a part in pushing more people to buy hybrid and electric cars, with sales for pure electric vehicles having seemingly overtaken diesel models in Britain for good. In the year-to-date, 9.5% of new car sales have been for EVs, versus 8.9% for diesels, and the government is looking to bolster that progress its 2021 Autumn Budget. Chancellor Sunak reaffirmed the £350 million he’s using to support the electrification of vehicles in the UK, as well as an extra £620 million for electric car grants and charging infrastructure. 

Something that ought to please all motorists, petrol and diesel car drivers included, will be the £21 billion allocated to transport infrastructure, which – you’d hope – will bring in measures to help ease traffic and reduce journey times in congested areas. £5bn worth of that cash is specifically set aside for road reparation to reduce the number of potholes scattered over the nation’s tarmac. Something that’ll be music to the ears of those who regularly drive over broken routes, or, indeed, people who drive firmer-riding sports cars. We salute your commitment. But we also respect those who prefer life in softer-riding cars, like this suitably cushioned Mercedes EQC electric SUV. Potholes, do your worst...

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