Saturday, 07 July 2018 04:45


Gail Ross, the SNP MSP for Caithness, Sutherland and Ross, has written to Chancellor Philip Hammond calling for him to rule out a rumoured hike in the rate of fuel duty.

Fuel duty, which has been frozen by the UK government at the same rate for the past eight years under pressure from the SNP, is a regressive tax on consumers – with the least well-off bearing the brunt of any increases.
Changes impact most acutely on people living and doing business in rural areas who depend on travelling by road, often with no alternative. Duty is also levied on domestic heating fuels, and with fuel poverty affecting Highland Scotland any rise risks exacerbate the problem further.
The SNP is clear that a modest tax increase to better fund public services such as the NHS is the correct approach, but it is vital that increases are progressive and implemented in a way which ensures that those on higher incomes pay more than those who can least afford to.
In her letter to the Chancellor, Ms Ross also stresses the existing tax burden on the Scottish oil and gas sector and that many of the Scottish-based businesses have already paid their way in taxes further upstream in the supply chain (e.g. during exploration, production and delivery) through corporation tax, the supplementary charge and excise duty.
The SNP has consistently argued for a fuel duty regulator, to mitigate the impact of oil price shocks on pump prices, with a mechanism for rate adjustments for rural communities.
Commenting, Gail Ross said:
“The fact of the matter is that a Westminster tax hike designed to make a quick buck could end up being and absolutely disaster for my constituents – those who depend on fuel to heat their homes, to get to work, to reach local services by road or to do business.
“An indiscriminate, regressive tax hike on fuel duty would hit the least well-off the hardest and people in rural Scotland worst of all.
“There are better ways to generate income for public services – by creating a fairer, progressive tax system based upon how much people earn, with the most well off contributing a little bit more to fund our NHS. That’s exactly what the Scottish Government is doing.
“I’ve written to the Chancellor as a matter of urgency and implore him to sit up and take notice.
“An unthinking, damaging hike in fuel duty could literally put jobs at risk, vastly increase the cost of living for many and drive families into poverty.
“And, let’s remember, Scotland has already paid tax its share to get the oil out of the North Sea in the first place – with all those revenues siphoned off by the Treasury, without Scotland seeing a penny.
“It’s a further reminder of why we need the powers to come to Holyrood to protect consumers, build a fairer tax system and prevent the Tories from inflicting more damage on Scottish communities.”

Letter from Gail Ross MSP to the Chancellor of the Exchequer:
Dear Philip,
I read with considerable concern reports in the media this week that your government is considering an end to the freeze on Fuel Duty. While the rationale behind such a move was briefed to the press as a means to raise further revenue to invest in the NHS, I have several concerns about how this would impact upon Scotland and my Caithness, Sutherland and Ross constituency in particular.
Let me be clear, I do not dispute that as the pressures on our NHS grow we must consider how best we support it to meet the challenges ahead. As you will be aware, in Scotland we have opted for modest increases to income tax so that those who can afford to do so contribute a little more towards public services.
However, Fuel Duty – by contrast – is an indiscriminate and regressive tax on consumers; one which hits the poorest hardest with a flat rate levied at the petrol pump.
In my Highland constituency we face a challenge in tackling fuel poverty. While the Scottish Government is taking action to tackle this, a Fuel Duty hike could simply exacerbate an existing problem.
Furthermore, my constituency spans some 150 miles across, with communities dependent upon travelling by road to reach local services, shops, healthcare and schools. The costs to individual families from an increase in Fuel Duty and the impact upon their daily lives would be substantial.
Businesses operating in my constituency and across rural Scotland rely on road haulage transport goods to and from market. They should not be unfairly penalised further purely on the basis of location.
Constituents of mine, and considerable number of people working in the north of Scotland, have ties to our North Sea oil and gas industry. Of course, this is a sector which has faced significant pressures in recent years, with disappointing few relief schemes put in place by the UK government to minimise job losses over that period. Many Scottish businesses have already paid their way on oil and gas based fuels further upstream in the supply chain through Corporation Tax, Supplementary Charge and Excise duty. You might reflect on the fact it would be inappropriate for Scotland to bear the brunt of a further Fuel Duty hike on this basis.
Finally, you will be aware that the SNP has consistently argued for the establishment of a fuel duty regulator, to help mitigate the impact of oil price shocks on pump prices, temper price hikes and consider their impact whilst also implementing a mechanism for rate adjustments for rural communities. I would urge you to give this proposal fresh consideration.
Overall, I urge you not to pursue any increase in the rate of Fuel Duty in the short to medium term and to give my constituents and people throughout Scotland the peace of mind by ruling such plans out altogether.
I look forward to your response in early course.
With very best wishes,
Gail Ross MSP

Read 290 times Last modified on Saturday, 07 July 2018 04:47

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