Budget 2015 is Chancellor George Osborne’s last before May’s general election. We expected plenty of giveaways as the Conservatives woo voters. But for drivers, used to being clobbered by Governments, this year’s budget was a mixed bag.
Budget 2015: Fuel duty rise abandoned
In a carbon copy of his 2014 budget, the Chancellor cancelled the fuel duty increase of 0.54p per litre that was planned for September. The result will see a five-year freeze on fuel duty by the end of the 2015/16 tax year, the longest in more than 20 years. The chancellor says it will save the average family around £10 every time they fill up their car. However, while welcoming the freeze, campaigner Howard Cox from FairFuelUK said: “Why doesn’t the Government go further and drive the UK economy continually upwards by cutting duty? We give Mr Osborne six out of 10 for endeavour and will continue to campaign for duty to be frozen for the lifetime of the next Parliament with more pressure on a real cut in the Autumn Statement.”
Budget 2015: Company car drivers hit
Company car drivers face a three per cent hike in the tax they pay on their benefit. But this won’t come into effect until 2019/20. Currently company car drivers pay tax on their car according to how much carbon dioxide (CO2) it emits. Cars emitting 0-50g/km of CO2 will pay three per cent less tax than ones emitting 51-75g/km. In turn this 51-75g/km category will be three per cent lower than those emitting 76-94g/km.
However, after revealing in the 2014 budget that Ultra Low Emission Vehicles (ULEVs) would face huge increases in tax, the Chancellor appears to have done a U turn. This comes following accusations that he was discouraging the take up of ULEVs by taxing them at a faster rate than higher emissions vehicles. Year-on-year, company car tax increases will now slow for ULEVs and increase at a faster rate for cars emitting more than 75g/km.
Budget 2015: Severn Bridge tolls cut
The cost of crossing the Severn Bridge into Wales will be reduced from £6.50 to £5.40. George Osborne revealed that VAT on the charges would be scrapped when the bridge returns to public ownership in 2018. Vans, which currently pay £13.10 to cross the river, will also pay £5.40. Keith Palmer from the South Wales Chamber of Commerce said: “The Severn tolls are widely regarded as a tax on Wales’ competitiveness and a tax on businesses. We welcome the Chancellor’s decision to reduce tolls on the Severn Bridge from 2018 so that Wales has the same opportunities to attract inward investment as other parts of the UK.”
Budget 2015: Driverless cars get a boost
The Government has identified the driverless car sector as an important British industry for the future. The Chancellor rewarded it with an investment of £100m in order to research and develop intelligent mobility. The money will be used to enhance the development of driverless car technology and the systems required to implement and adopt it such as telecommunications. The aim is to help Britain become a leader in vehicle innovation and technology.