Chancellor urged to ditch ‘unaffordable’ fuel price rise

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CHANCELLOR George Osborne is under renewed pressure to abandon a planned increase in fuel duty, amid warnings that the rising price of petrol is stretching household budgets to the limit.

As MPs prepare to vote tomorrow on the planned 3p a litre increase due in January, the consumer organisation Which? said more people than ever before were being forced to cut back on motoring costs.

It said its latest polling found a record 85 per cent of people expressed fears about rising fuel prices – a nine point increase since July.

Those saying they would cut back on motoring costs rose seven points to 39 per cent – another record high – while one in ten said they had had to dig into their savings to cover their motoring costs.

Overall, one in three people said they were finding it difficult to live on their current income, with 33 per cent also cutting spending on the essentials last month. Getting on for half – 44 per cent – said they would cut back on food and groceries in the coming months.

Which? said the figures showed 8.7 million households cut spending on essentials last month, while 6.4 million households dipped into savings to cover their outgoings.

Which? executive director Richard Lloyd said: “Rising fuel prices are the number one consumer worry and people are already telling us they’re having to cut back and dip into savings just to get by.

“On the back of inflation-busting energy bill rises and increasing food prices, consumers can little afford another hit on their household budget.

“We’re calling on the government to think again about their plans to increase fuel duty in January.

“The forthcoming Autumn Statement must focus on measures that will help put money back in the pockets of consumers.”