Autumn Statement 2013: Fuel duty hike cancelled by Osborne

Updated: 
Next year's fuel duty rise has been cancelled. Instead of petrol taxes rising by 2p a litre, they will be frozen. Chancellor George Osborne claims the move means petrol will be 20p a litre less than under Labour's plans.

The announcement will be welcomed by motorist organisations and hard-pressed British consumers. What other news is there for Britain's motorists?

Vehicle Excise Duty changes

It's goodbye to the British tax disc and all that tricky perforations nonsense from October 2014. Motorists will need to register your tax disc online in a push to a paperless service. If you fail to register, your car can still be tracked by traffic cameras.

To some extent the move is overdue, given that a vehicle's tax status is also stored on a central electronic register that police have access to.

The Treasury claims the move should save £7m in admin costs for British business overall. You can also pay for this tax by direct debit, allowing you to spread the load of this considerable tax - for those who run older, more fuel-hungry cars, at least. The six-month road tax charge is also snipped from 10% to 5%.

Mixed consumer sentiment

Meanwhile an AA-Populus survey of 21,587 AA members recently found 45% were using their car less and 28% are slashing family or personal budgets to compensate.

The lack of fuel pump optimism was pushed home with the latest ONS Retail Sales figures for the automotive fuel sector. They show, says the AA, that despite the largest fall in the price of goods sold in this sector since September 2009, October's year-on-year volume of sales were down 2.4%.

Drivers with the gloomiest outlook on pump prices are in Wales where 67% are spending less or driving less because of fuel costs, claims the AA. But if the Treasury is going to make concessions to the fuel retail industry, it needs to tie them to fairer pricing is says.

New car sales surge

"That can be achieved via wholesale price transparency. Despite falls in the average price, inflated prices on some forecourts mean lower sales hence fewer customers."

Meanwhile new figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) shows that the new car sales surged 7% in November, with 159,581 vehicles registered. For the full year, more than two million cars have been snapped up in 2013 in the UK, close to a 10% rise on 2012.