Rob GanleySee other Blog articles filed in ‘Editor's Blog’ written by Rob Ganley
Kate Taylor is Practical Motorhome's production journalist, and has toured extensively around the UK and Europe in motorhomes. Follow her regular blogs on all things motorcaravaning here on our website.
Fuel duty should be scrapped: this was one of the lead stories in yesterday's news, and at first glance it's one to to warm the cockles of our hearts. Just think how much further we could all travel in our motorhomes if we paid less tax on the fuel!
The proposal comes from The Mirrlees Review by the Institute for Fiscal Studies, a leading think tank that has been studying our tax system for five long years. But before we break out the Champagne, the Review contains a few less welcome bright ideas to replace the fuel tax.
In the short term it proposes to expand congestion charging to replace the duty on petrol and diesel. So, more than ever, we’ll have to drive the long way round all the towns on our route, then park on a campsite and take a bus or train into town. Fair enough, the government is trying to force us to be greener, right?
Taxing green engines
Wrong: don’t forget, this study is all about obtaining tax. The review warns the government that the rise of electric cars and new vehicles with greater fuel efficiency will reduce its revenue from fuel duty. So it sees congestion charging as another way to clobber drivers who have invested in the new, leaner, cleaner, greener engines.
That’s not fair on those of us who have bought a new motorcaravan, because we have paid for the latest advances in low-emission, fuel-efficient technology. At Practical Motorhome we applaud manufacturers who have started to build on base vehicles with the latest Euro 5 engines. These engines are better for our health and wealth – and in return we should fully expect to be repaid by getting more miles for our litres, saving fuel tax in the process.
On top of that, the Review proposes to charge VAT on things that are currently exempt, such as children’s clothes and food.
Taxing young and old
So, does that mean that we’d get cheaper fuel, but non-drivers, including pensioners, and children would pay for it?
Other tax-raising proposals involve persuading more 55-70-year-olds back to work, by raising the personal allowance for people aged 55-plus – while denying them any entitlement to Pension Credit until the ripe old age of 70-plus.
This tax review threatens to scrap retirement – a time when so many of us look forward to going off in a motorhome and exploring the countryside. People deserve a break after so many decades of tax-paying working life.
Parents of children over the age of five would also be ‘encouraged’ to work, since child tax credits would be higher for parents of pre-schoolers, but would drop once the child was five. (‘Where are the jobs?’ I hear you mutter.)
Just don’t ask Granny and Granddad to help out with childcare, though, since they’ll be working until they’re 70 – and restricting their life-enhancing motorhome trips to those precious weekends and annual holidays.
The Review’s other proposals include a council tax hike, achieved by updating valuations on all homes. Plus it would merge tax and National Insurance.
Scrap fuel duty? Not at this price. We don’t need to drive too far to escape from the rat race – but we do need the time to do it. This Review threatens our entire way of life. Never have we all been more in need of the chance to get away from it all, stop, breathe fresh air and relax. For me, that is exactly what owning a motorhome is all about.