Headlines: May 30th, 2008

The Government is being warned today that continued complacency over investment in Britain ’s roads is not good enough, especially at a time of rising motoring costs. But in a report today the RAC Foundation says rising fuel prices could reduce road use and offer an opportunity to plan improvements.

Today’s analysis from the Foundation concludes that the combination of the present ‘high tax – low investment’ economy for drivers means they are getting poor value for money. Fuel costs, the report says,
have risen between 3 and 4 per cent in a single month but that is not being matched by increased investment in the road network. For an average family the Foundation estimates that the cost of unleaded fuel has risen to 106 pounds a month, of which 64 pounds goes directly to the Treasury in duty and VAT.

Last year, by contrast, only 26 per cent of the money paid by UK motorists, excluding VAT, went towards improving roads and the Foundation says that if petrol continues to go up at current rates, without action on investment in the network, motorists will get worse value for money than ever before.

Stephen Glaister, Director of the Foundation said, “There is no way for the motoring public to assess what their taxes are buying them and this needs to change. The only target developed by Government to assess how congestion is changing on the worst parts of our motorway network has not been met, which demonstrates that investing in and planning for new capacity is essential.”

He added, though, that high oil prices would cause a temporary fall in demand for road space, which could allow the Government the breathing space to plan improvements to the network. “Continued complacency is not an option,” he said and added, “In the meantime UK motorists are suffering significant price increases for a declining level of service. This is not
acceptable and the Government must develop and share their plans for action.”