A new campaign has been launched to try to force the UK Government to cut the cost of fuel – with placards to go on display at half of Scotland’s forecourts.
The Taxpayers’ Alliance pressure group and the Petrol Retailers Association want to show hard-pressed motorists that 60% of what they pay at the pump goes straight to the Treasury.
The campaigners hope the move will pile pressure on Chancellor George Osborne to cut fuel duty by 5p a litre over five years, or “at the very least” freeze the tax for the rest of the parliament, until 2015. The placards are going to more than 5,000 filling stations in the UK – including 250 in Scotland.
Matthew Sinclair, chief executive of the Taxpayers’ Alliance, said: “Too often staff in the forecourts get the flak for high fuel prices which are really the result of exorbitant taxes set by politicians.
“That is why we produced the new fuel tax stands to show customers how much tax they actually pay when they fill up.”
Residents of rural areas in the north of Scotland – particularly the islands – have long endured some of the highest petrol and diesel prices in the country.
Angus MacNeil, SNP MP for the Western Isles, said: backed the calls for the government to ease the burden on motorists.
“This campaign properly underlines the fact that the Treasury’s tax take on fuel is modern-day highway robbery,” he said.
“It is a national scandal that, in an oil-rich country like Scotland, we are paying the highest fuel taxes in Europe.”
The UK Government introduced a 5p-a-litre discount scheme at petrol stations on the islands this year, and in June ministers postponed a 3p rise which was due to come into effect this month. It is understood a 5p-a-litre cut across Britain would cost about £2.5billion.
A Treasury spokesman said: “The government has taken real action to help motorists with the cost of fuel, including cutting fuel duty at last year’s Budget and delaying a rise planned for this month.
“Taken together, the government’s support has been worth £5.5billion and means that pump prices are 10p a litre cheaper than they otherwise would have been.”