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Countryside Alliance urges Jeremy Hunt not to increase fuel duty ahead of Autumn Statement

The Countryside Alliance is urging the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Jeremy Hunt, not to increase fuel duty ahead of his Autumn statement.

Chancellor Hunt will deliver his statement to MPs on Thursday 17 November. The timing is still to be confirmed, but it is expected to happen before midday. The government is set to announce tens of billions of pounds worth of spending cuts and tax rises.

According to multiple reports in the media, options presented to ministers ahead of the statement, include putting up fuel duty which some believe will help plug the financial black hole.

The rural campaigning organisation warns this would make an already 'grave situation worse' for those living in the countryside. They argue the cost of living crisis is hitting rural areas harder than those in towns and cities, from spending more on the basic necessities of life to lower incomes.

The Alliance say that over the last year, rural people have seen the cost of a litre of petrol rise up to £1.99 in the summer months and its research found rural households were having to spend nearly £800 a year more on fuel compared to people living in urban areas.

The same research found people living in rural areas were also paying up to 6p a litre more for their petrol than those living in towns and cities

Sarah Lee, Director of Policy at the Countryside Alliance said: "People all over the country are suffering as a result of the price at pumps, but in rural areas, where competition is minimal, people have very little choice but to fork out eye-watering sums. To say they are feeling the squeeze would be a colossal understatement. Ideally fuel duty would be cut further, but it is critical that it at the very least is kept down. We need to keep the countryside moving".

On average, according to the National Transport Survey, those living in rural areas drive around 68% more miles each year than those living in urban areas. But there are fewer petrol stations and less competition in rural areas, which means they are often paying more for petrol than their urban neighbours.

Public transport, where it exists in rural areas, can often be unreliable and impractical for those trying to get to and from a place of work. In many more remote and isolated areas, there is a public transport blackout entirely.

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