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Rural areas will not receive fuel discount, government announces

By: Deborah Bates
19 January 2011

In a move set to upset those in logistics work, the government has taken a u-turn on its plans to grant a fuel discount for those operating in rural areas.

Announcing to BBC News, Danny Alexander, the chief secretary to the Treasury, has said that the plans will not be included in March's official Budget; however confirmed that "informal discussions" on the matter were still taking place.

This has come as a disappointment to many, including companies thinking of hiring drivers, as it would have meant those living in the Northern Isles, Isles of Scilly and the Inner/Outer Hebrides would have gained a 5p per litre discount. Speaking on, the transport spokesperson for the Scottish National Party, Angus MacNeil MP, voiced his opinion over the matter.

"This is not just disappointing, it is a despicable betrayal by the Tory Lib Dem government at a time when the country is crying out for action to bring down fuel costs," he said.

"In their coalition agreement, [they] clearly promised a pilot scheme, and now they are reneging on that commitment. People in the Highlands and Islands will be furious. The Lib Dems' pre-election promises were clearly worthless, and now these failures will haunt them in the lead up to the Holyrood elections in May."

The anger of remote residents is understandable, as Alexander only recently proclaimed: "We are taking steps to put in place a fuel duty discount scheme for remote communities where the prices are absolutely highest - something previous governments refused to do."

This could make the VAT hike and rises in fuel duty even tougher for small businesses, particularly those operating in these areas, as many are already struggling financially.

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