"A fuel price hike is the last thing that the economy needs at the moment,” said King. “The higher the fuel price, the less car-dependent motorists have to spend in the high street. High fuel prices will also increase the cost of deliveries and hence goods.”


The AA also pointed out that the last hike in fuel tax actually saw the Government take about £97.5m less in tax revenue in the first quarter of this year compared with 2008. “The fuel retail figures show that half a million tonnes less fuel was sold this year than last,” said an AA spokesman. “That came after a fuel duty rise in the autumn; they raised tax but got less revenue.”

The Freight Transport Association has also slammed the timing of the rise. The FTA’s director of communications Jo Tanner said: “With oil prices already rising and many businesses on their knees as a result of the recession, is this really the best time to be increasing fuel duty, again?”

The FTA is leading calls for the Government to impose a lower rate of fuel duty for commercial vehicles compared with private cars. Tanner said: “This would allow the UK to compete more effectively in European road transport markets and allow companies to invest further in their fleets.”


Fuel Duty Rises

1 December 2008: Up 2p/litre
1 April 2009: Up 1.84p/litre
1 September 2009: Up 2p/litre
April 2010: Proposed increase of 1p/litre

In real terms this means that it now costs £4.67 more in taxation to fill up a Transit (80 litre tank) than it did last November.