Tessa met with Justine Greening MP, Economic Secretary to the Treasury, on Thursday 17th March taking with her Peter Carroll, founder of the Fair Fuel UK Campaign, a delegation from the transport industry and Quentin Willson, the Motor Journalist. During this meeting, she pressed for a 2010 Budget which recognises and reacts to the huge impact fuel price rises have on everyone in rural areas – both residents and businesses. She is pleased to see her efforts paid off.
Tessa also actively campaigned for the introduction of a fuel price stabiliser after meeting with organisers of local domestic fuel syndicates and many local residents to hear of their deep concern at the disproportionate effect of spikes in oil prices in rural areas, where there is often no alternative to oil-fired heating. Having written to Vince Cable and Chris Huhne about this, she met George Osborne to discuss this only a fortnight ago. Tessa also wrote to Chris Huhne separately to suggest more is done to encourage energy self-sufficiency at a domestic level which in the long term would reduce our vulnerability to future price rises.
Tessa was therefore delighted by the announcement in the Budget to scrap the previous Government’s plans for a 5 pence per litre hike in the price of fuel, set for this week. Instead, fuel prices were cut by a penny. Petrol prices have already risen by around 18 pence a litre since the Autumn which has hurt people more in rural areas. Instead, extra taxes will be applied to the oil companies which are benefiting from soaring world oil prices. Tessa said “This will help ordinary people, both working and retired, in rural areas where public transport was already scarce, and is being cut further – in my opinion unnecessarily – by the County Council”.
The Coalition secured the ‘triple-lock’ for pensioners, making sure pensions rise in line with prices, earnings or 2.5% – whichever is higher, and bringing to an end the insulting 75 pence rises we saw under Labour. This year the pensioners are getting a £4.50 a week rise.
Tessa continued “In April, 880,000 low income people will stop paying tax altogether. 23 million basic rate taxpayers will get a £200 tax cut. This Budget goes a long way to help the less wealthy – 25 million people will benefit from another £126 drop in tax next year. By April 2012, we will have lifted over 1.1 million people on low incomes out of paying tax altogether. This is a core Liberal Democrat manifesto pledge – one on which I worked in 2005 to form our policy – which has been implemented.”
However, Tessa expressed her concerns about the cut in winter fuel payments to the over 60’s to £200 from £250, and for the over 80’s from £400 to £300. On the ‘green’ environment front, although an increase in investment in the new ‘Green Investment Bank’ from £1 billion to £3 billion is welcome, the anticipated £18 billion which will be raised by 2015 falls far short of the £550 billion needed to promote green jobs and achieve our emissions targets here in the UK.