In a surprise announcement at the Conservative party conference, chancellor George Osborne said that the government will freeze the duty on fuel until May 2015. He hopes that this will help the hundreds of thousands of struggling households finding it increasingly hard to cope with rising prices. Earlier this year, the RAC Foundation reported that there are 800,000 households that spend as much as 25% of their income on maintaining a car.
This should give some relief to Britons struggling with soaring living costs, especially when they also face a 4.1% increase in rail fares from January, adding to the burden of transport and commuting costs. The rail fare increase angered millions of people, who use public rail networks to commute, as the price has been rising at a pace that is 1% higher than that of inflation ever since it was tied to the retail price index. The planned rise led to protests at stations across the country, as it came at a moment when income is rising at a much slower pace. In fact, according to shadow chief secretary of the treasury Rachel Reeves, real wages to date are £1,500 less than they were in 2010.
In a separate announcement, the government said the “Help To Buy” scheme, which will support new home buyers with government guarantees of all mortgages for property of up to £600,000, will be launched now rather than in January as initially planned.