Cars need fuel ......and roads
Motorists are getting poor value for money from today's 'high tax - low investment' economy, according to a new analysis released today by the Royal Automobile Club Foundation (30). Fuel costs have risen between 3-4 per cent* in just one month, but this is not being matched by increased investment in the road network.
According to the RAC Foundation's analysis, the cost of unleaded fuel for the average family has risen 3.4 per cent since the end of April 2008**, to £106 a month. £64 of this goes directly to the Treasury in the form of duty and VAT**. Last year only one quarter (26 per cent) of the monies paid by UK motorists (excluding VAT) were spent on improving the road network***. If petrol prices continue to rise at their current rates, without action to address the imbalance in investment in the road network, the motoring public will be getting worse value for money than ever before.
The RAC Foundation's analysis also shows that the difference between taxes taken from the motorist and investment returned to the road network has soared over four hundred per cent since the mid 1970's. In 1975 income from motorists (£11.6bn in 2006 prices) was broadly equal to spending on the road network (£11.1bn)***. Today, the Government takes four times as much from the motorist as it spends on the roads, making the difference between tax and investment 460 per cent greater than in the mid 1970s***. Between 1990 and 1999 the revenue provided to the Treasury doubled to over £40 billion, but Government investment in roads has not come close to matching this increase in spite of the rapid growth in demands on the network****.
Stephen Glaister, Director of the Royal Automobile Club Foundation said;
"There is no way for the motoring public to assess what their taxes are buying them and this needs to change. The only target developed by Government to assess how congestion is changing on the worst parts of our motorway network has not been met*****, which demonstrates that investing in and planning for new capacity is essential."
"Present high oil prices, which will cause a temporary fall in demand for road space, could allow the Government the breathing space to plan improvements to the network. Continued complacency is not an option."
"In the meantime UK motorists are suffering significant price increases for a declining level of service. This is not acceptable and the Government must develop and share their plans for action."
The Royal Automobile Club Foundation fact file on the declining levels of service provided to the motoring public finds that:
· UK Motorists pay the most fuel tax in Europe. The total tax revenue paid to the Treasury every year amounts to £45 billion******.
·Environmental arguments for higher taxes or motoring charges are hard to sustain. When the Government's cost for carbon as well as other social and safety costs are considered, road users already pay more than their environmental costs****.
·In 2005 the average driver was delayed by 3 minutes and 47 seconds for every ten miles travelled on the slowest 10% of roads. This has now risen by 4.4% to 3 minutes and 57seconds*****.
·The average wait for a road to be resurfaced is now 65 years*******.
In the current climate the motorist is paying more for a declining level of service, particularly when compared to the standards of service expected from other utilities and private businesses.