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Millions of motorists are being hit in the pocket as petrol prices reach an eight year high after nine successive months of hikes, latest RAC figures show.

And the cost at the pump is only set to rise further, warns the motoring organisation, with demand for oil outstripping supply amid the continuing global recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.

The rise in prices, which saw 3.4p and 2.7p added to a litre of petrol and diesel respectively in July, will also fuel the cost of staycations, which have seen a spike amid uncertainty over overseas travel restrictions.

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Fuel increases will also add to the cost of staycations this year

According to the RAC, last month saw the largest increase in the price of unleaded since January.

It means on average a litre now costs 135.13p – a level not seen since late September 2013 – up from 131.76p at the start of July.

Diesel now costs on average 137.06p per litre, up from 134.36p.

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The price rises meant that last month was the most expensive July to fill up with petrol since 2013, and for diesel since 2014.

A driver filling up a 55-litre car with petrol now pays on average £3.08 more to fill up than they did at the start of June, and £11.47 more than they did a year ago.

For diesel drivers, filling a similarly sized tank now costs £2.90 more than at the start of June, and £10.46 more than it did at the end of July 2020.

As countries move to rally rom the economic turmoil caused by the COVID-19 crisis, demand for oil is increasing, pushing up wholesale fuel prices which are passed into drivers.

The RAC advises motorists to visit supermarkets to find the best value fuel this summer, with the price of a litre of petrol around 3p cheaper compared to the average and more than 16p less than at motorway service areas.

RAC fuel spokesman Simon Williams said: “Prices really are only going one way at the moment – and that’s not the way drivers want to see them going.

“With a second summer staycation in full swing, it’s proving to be a particularly costly one for many families who are using their cars to holiday here in the UK.

“With so many people depending on their vehicles, there’s really nothing drivers can do to escape the high prices, and our best advice is for them to drive as economically as possible in order to try to make their money go further.

“Right now it’s hard to see what it will take for prices to start falling again.

“While we’re not past the pandemic by any means, demand for oil is likely to continue to increase as economic activity picks up again, and this is likely to have the effect of pushing up wholesale fuel prices, costs which retailers are bound to pass on at the pumps.

“Unless major oil producing nations decide a new strategy to increase output, we could very well see forecourt prices going even higher towards the end of the summer.

“If there is any good news at all, it is that prices would need to rise significantly further – by a further 3p – to reach the highest prices we saw in 2013.

“But that’s no comfort for the millions of drivers who are faced with paying so much more for fuel than they have done in many years.”

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Chancellor Jeremy Hunt considering further public spending cut to boost tax giveaway in budget

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Chancellor Jeremy Hunt considering further public spending cut to boost tax giveaway in budget

Jeremy Hunt is considering a last minute further cut to public spending to boost the tax giveaway in Wednesday’s budget.

The Politics At Jack And Sam’s podcast, out now, sets out how Number 10 and 11 have spent recent days finding as many different ways of raising future revenue as possible to increase the size of Wednesday’s tax cuts.

National insurance could be cut by 2p again in the budget if the chancellor succeeds in finding the right mix of revenue-raising measures and spending cuts.

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Currently, spending is due to rise 1% above inflation after next year. However, if this was cut to 0.75% above inflation, that would raise £5-6bn.

The chancellor would hope to resist questions about where he would cut, saying he is doing an efficiency drive and decisions would be outlined at a future spending review post election.

The decision on whether to cut future spending was live in the Treasury as recently as Friday, and this morning the chancellor was arguing about the importance of finding efficiencies.

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What do people want in the budget?

This is likely to boost Labour’s charge that the government is “maxing out the credit card” to keep its own supporters on side.

However, most Tories in government believe this is a necessary trade-off to allow the party to go into the next election presenting themselves as the low-tax party.

Some senior Tories disagree, however, worrying that the public is more worried about the state of public services than tax cuts.

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Budget 2024 explained

The budget is likely to have cuts or the abolition of non-dom status, which could raise £2-3bn, plus other small loopholes being closed, generating a few hundred million in revenue.

Read more:
Any tax cuts will need to be ‘undone’ after election – economist
Unfunded tax cuts ‘deeply unconservative’ – Hunt
When is the budget – timings and how to watch

The Politics At Jack And Sam’s Podcast also reveals how delaying Contaminated Blood compensation payouts has helped deliver tax cuts.

In January, the Treasury was worried those payments might reduce the amount the chancellor could spend before he reached the borrowing limits from his fiscal rules.

However, the inquiry will not report until later and the government is resisting calls for interim payouts.

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Any tax cuts will need to be ‘undone’ after election, economist claims

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Any tax cuts will need to be 'undone' after election, economist claims

Any tax cuts made during this budget will “one way or another be undone after the election”, according to one economist.

Speaking to Sky News, Paul Johnson, the director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies, explained that – if it were not an election year – it is unlikely that Chancellor Jeremy Hunt would be looking to trim the tax burden.

Speaking to Sunday Morning with Trevor Phillips, Mr Hunt said his budget would be “prudent and responsible” – but added that he wanted to “make some progress” on the “journey” started by the two pence cut to National Insurance announced in the autumn statement six months ago.

The chancellor is facing pressure to cut taxes to try and shift the polls in favour of his own party, which is languishing well behind Labour.

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Mr Johnson said: “I think this is going to be a political decision in an election year. If this weren’t an election year, I don’t think we’d be talking about tax cuts at all.”

He added: “If we weren’t looking at an election, I think he would be saying, let’s steady as she goes, let’s see where we are in a year or two.

“But given it is an election, I suspect we will get some tax cuts.

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“My guess, though, is that those will, one way or another, be undone after the election.

“The state of public finances, the state of public services, the shortage of money for everything from the health service to local government to social care indicates to me, we’re going to need more money over the next five years rather than less.”

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Budget 2024 explained

Changes to income tax and National Insurance have been mooted as potential options, as well the government taking Labour’s policy of scrapping the non-dom tax status.

But with the budget itself not due until Wednesday lunchtime, Sky News understands decisions are still being made in Downing Street about what to include.

The tricky financial picture means there has been limited space to make pre-budget announcements.

Read more:
Unfunded tax cuts ‘deeply unconservative’ – Hunt
What to expect from the budget – tax cuts to vaping duty
When is the budget – timings and how to watch

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Budget will be ‘prudent and responsible’

The tax burden is reaching record levels, with it expected to rise to its highest point since the Second World War before the end of this decade as the country looks to pay back heavy borrowing used for support during COVID-19 and the energy spike in the aftermath of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Mr Hunt has already announced plans for an £800m package of technology reforms which government hopes will free up public sector workers.

Mr Hunt claims that “we shouldn’t fall into the trap of thinking more spending buys us better public services” – and that the £800m investment will yield £1.8bn in benefits by 2029.

Torsten Bell, the head of the Resolution Foundation, worked in the Treasury as a civil servant before going to work for chancellor Alistair Darling in the financial crisis.

He explained to Sky News why Mr Hunt is having difficulty “rolling the pitch” – preparing the ground for the announcements in the budget.

Mr Bell said: “The reason why the chancellor is finding things quite difficult is two reasons; One is the difficult economic circumstance.

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What public finance figures mean for the budget

“We’re obviously coming out of a high inflation period, but we’re not seeing a lot of economic growth.

“And then on top of that, we’re in a world where they’re talking about tax cuts, but everybody around the country, everybody watching this knows that, the reality is this is an era of taxes going up.

“So it’s a difficult situation.”

Mr Hunt said he wants to cut taxes as it helps faster growth as seen in North America and Asia.

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“But it would be deeply unconservative to cut taxes in a way that increased borrowing that wasn’t fully funded,” the chancellor said.

“If I think of the great tax-cutting budgets of the past – Nigel Lawson’s budget in 1988.

“The reason that was so significant is because those tax cuts were permanent and people need to know that these are tax cuts you can really afford.

“So it will be responsible and everything I do will be affordable.”

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Banks placed on alert over ‘rogue’ Companies House filings

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Banks placed on alert over 'rogue' Companies House filings

Britain’s biggest banks have been placed on alert over hundreds of ‘rogue’ filings which appear to have been lodged at Companies House, the UK’s central corporate register.

Sky News has obtained a note issued by UK Finance, the banking trade association, which warned its members that approximately 800 forms relating to the discharging of financial liabilities were submitted at Companies House late last month.

In the notice to banks – marked as “Urgent” when it was circulated last week – UK Finance said it had alerted both Companies House and the Department for Business and Trade to the issue.

Industry executives pointed to the possibility of an attempted fraud or hacking of the Companies House register, although the circumstances remained unclear on Sunday.

UK Finance said in its memo that a number of members and law firms had “flagged an issue regarding the apparently erroneous satisfaction of security (registered charges) on Companies House relating to a number of live business clients”.

In a further update issued on Friday, it said it had been informed that roughly 800 rogue filings related to 190 companies had been submitted, adding: “Companies House have emphasised that an incorrect entry in the register – saying a charge has been satisfied – does not invalidate or cancel that charge.

“It remains valid and enforceable.

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“However, there will likely be other consequences for lenders that will need to be resolved.”

Read more:
Unfunded tax cuts ‘deeply unconservative’, says Hunt ahead of Budget
Post Office should be handed over to postmasters, former boss says

Companies House, which is owned by the government, is responsible for incorporating and limiting millions of limited companies.

One source described the situation as “deeply alarming” and said it was disappointing that Companies House had also outlined plans to increase its fees in May “when it was susceptible to rogue corporate filings in this way”.

Responding to an enquiry from Sky News, a Companies House spokesperson said: “We are aware of this matter and we are looking into it.”

UK Finance declined to comment further.

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