5 Mar 2011

Osborne moves to ease petrol price fears

Chancellor George Osborne signals he will use the budget to cancel the planned increase in fuel duty. Meanwhile Labour’s Ed Miliband warns that families will be hardest hit by the cuts.

Rowena Smith is a district nurse who drives hundreds of miles a week.

While the cost of petrol has doubled in the last 10 years, her NHS mileage has not gone up a penny. It means that every time she fills her tank on her credit card, she is forking out £20 of her own money.

She told Channel 4 News: “Every time I fill the care up, my heart sinks every time I go into the station to pay. Every time there’s a rise in the amount of money it takes to fill my car.

“It really makes you scared to fill the car up because you’re thinking, ‘How am I going to pay for this?'”

Ahead of the budget later this month, Chancellor George Osborne today spoke directly to families being squeezed by higher petrol prices.

I promise you I am doing everything I can to find a way to help. George Osborne, chancellor of the exchequer

Like a sympathetic GP, he said he understood the pain people are going through and explained that although there was no miracle cure, he would be some pain relief.

“I hear you,” he told the Conservative party’s spring conference in Cardiff. “We won’t take risks with economic stability or wreck the public finances.

“But I promise you I am doing everything I can to find a way to help – help the people that this government will always help: people who work hard, who save, who want to provide for their family without depending on the state for everything. We are on your side.”

At the same time, Ed Miliband was promoting Labour as the party to stand by the people of this country in tough times.

We know where the responsibility for the cuts lies. They lie firmly with this Conservative-led government. Ed Miliband, Labour leader

The Labour leader told a conference of councillors in London: “We have always assumed that our children, the next generation, would do better than us. Not just the well-off but the vast majority of people used to expect that their children will do better than them.

“But there is now a real fear that the British promise will be broken and the next generation will find it harder to get on than the last.”

And he continued: “We know where the responsibility for the cuts lie. They lie firmly with this Conservative-led government, and we should never shy away from making that clear.”

George Osborne will present the 2011 budget on 23 March.