Cautious welcome for Budget fuel duty announcement

Responding to Chancellor George Osborne’s Westminster Budget today, East Belfast Alliance MP Naomi Long has given a cautious welcome to the Budget announcement on fuel duty.

The Alliance Deputy Leader said: “I welcome the idea behind a fair fuel stabiliser; however, the detail around this proposal has to be subject to further analysis to see if it will genuinely deliver lower and more stable fuel prices for business and consumers in Northern Ireland in the medium to long term.

“We have traditionally had higher fuel prices than in the rest of the UK, and over recent months have been at the sharp end of rising prices. The announcement to suspend the fuel duty escalator which would have added an extra 5p to the price of fuel is clearly welcome; however, it is less clear how the stabiliser measure will deliver over the longer term.”

On the wider Budget proposals she said:

“Last year’s Budget and the Comprehensive Spending Review had already set the course for the term of this Parliament. Much of the bad news and big announcements had already been delivered. Today, by contrast, it was about smaller adjustments but no real change of direction.

“That is clearly of concern as the growth figures are not good, and indeed the targets for growth during this Parliament have had to be downgraded. Unemployment is also increasing. None of that suggests that the Government’s plans are working to ensure sustainable recovery.

“Proposed reductions in red tape for small businesses, simplification of the tax system, and the acceleration of the capitalisation of the Green Investment Bank are positive, but fundamentally the speed and depth of the cuts continues unchanged.

“Steady and sustainable growth alongside quality public services is absolutely essential, and there is nothing in the Budget to suggest that the Government is willing to adjust the speed of deficit reduction.”


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