The former editor of The Sun has called for a political party just for the South of England, following yesterday's autumn statement by the Chancellor George Osborne.Here's Kelvin Mackenzie speaking to Meridian's Last Word.
Chancellor Osborne’s decision to cancel the January 1 fuel duty hike avoids "a New Year’s headache and a long hangover for all drivers and is very much welcomed by the AA".
– Edmund King, the AA’s President
Big Ben’s chimes ringing in a nearly £2-a-tank hike in petrol and diesel prices would have backfired on the Government and economy.
"The Treasury may have thought that a fuel duty increase in the winter, when petrol is usually cheaper, would have been easier. But toasting the New Year with champagne at a lower duty rate than road fuel underlines successive governments’ failure to spot the difference between a luxury and a necessity.
“In 20 years, UK motoring has cut its fuel consumption by 20% (12.8 billion litres), but contributes 144% more (£15.81 billion) in fuel duty tax."
The AA said that if the Chancellor wants to beat his record fuel duty haul of £27.26 billion (2010/11), the Government should tackle inflated pump prices that are driving lower-income motorists off the road and cutting contributions to the Treasury.
The proposed 3p litre fuel duty hike would have added almost £2 a tank for the average car filling up, and £2.50 for ‘Mondeo Man’.
Reacting to the Chancellor’s decision to scrap the planned fuel duty rise, announced in his Autumn Statement today, British Retail Consortium Director General Stephen Robertson said: “No-one can afford to pay more for fuel.
"Cancelling January’s rise is exactly what we asked for. It will provide much needed support for consumers. It will ease the pressure on household budgets, boost customers’ ability to spend and help hard-pressed retailers contain their transport costs.
“Rebuilding the confidence of customers to spend and retailers to invest and create jobs have to be the Chancellor’s priorities.
“For the future, the ritual of announcing rises that are later dropped or delayed should end. A clearer more consistent approach would support longer-term decision making.”
The Chancellor’s decision to proceed with a further increase on air tax has been labelled “unsurprising and self destructive” by the Board of Airline Representatives in the UK (BAR UK), which represents over 80 airlines.
Dale Keller, chief executive, said “The pre-Budget levels of APD could not be justified and the latest increase takes us dangerously beyond the tipping point where the impact can only be negative to the economy.
"The announcement comes as unsurprising from a government that is not listening to the wider industry, or international opinion, and is self destructive to its own objectives of attracting foreign investment and tourism.
“BAR UK is calling on the Government to urgently conduct a review into the economic impact of APD, which we are certain would confirm that a radical review is required to achieve a fair, proportionate and internationally competitive tax before the UK loses more ground to competitors.”
This is the Government's summary of how George Osborne's statement will affect the region:
- 30,000 people to be lifted out of income tax and 3.5 million to pay less income tax as a result of Personal Allowance reforms.
Cancelling the planned rise in fuel duty in January will reduce running costs for the 5.6 million motor vehicles, saving a typical motorist £40 a year.
£150 million to tackle congestion at J30 on the M25.
£223 million to build over 15,000 affordable rented homes.
£15 million to return about 960 empty homes to use in the South East and East.
£170 million to develop new drug and cancer research centres in Oxford.
£35 million for the development of 5th Generation cellular communications at University of Surrey.
Brighton and Hove, Oxford and Portsmouth to be in the second wave of super-connected cities.
Business support measures will benefit 767,000 small and medium enterprises in the South East.
Government will provide a grant for councils that freeze council tax in 2013-14.
Managed motorway pilot between the M25 and Farnborough on the M3.
Over 250,000 commuters nationally will benefit from the Rail Fare cap, on average by £45 a year.
The campaign to bring ultra-fast broadband to Brighton and Hove is celebrating a “huge win” today after the Chancellor announced that the city has been selected to become “super-connected” as part of a £50m government scheme.
In his autumn statement to Parliament, George Osborne confirmed that the city will now receive funding for ultra-fast broadband, which many local digital and creative leaders think is vital if the city is to remain competitive in digital innovation.
Brighton Pavilion MP Caroline Lucas said: “The announcement today is huge win for the city and a well deserved boost for our outstanding digital and creative sector, which is already one of the most successful in the UK and delivering the majority of new local jobs.
“Becoming a super-connected city is vital if Brighton and Hove is to stay competitive and remain at the forefront of the technology revolution – and I’m absolutely delighted that our campaign, supported by Wired Sussex, Coast2Capital LEP and local business leaders, has been so successful.
“I’m also delighted that the other local MPs were able to give their support to the city’s bid for ultra-fast broadband, and that the Brighton Argus played such a key role in raising the profile of this important campaign.
“I now look forward to working with local digital and creative leaders and Brighton and Hove City Council to take this exciting initiative forward and make sure our city leads from the front in digital innovation.”