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Fuel Duty Freeze: Low-income Families

Volume 653: debated on Wednesday 23 January 2019

8. What assessment he has made of the effect of the freeze on fuel duty on low-income families in Wales. (908678)

The Government recognise that transport is a major cost for households and businesses, so it was announced at last year’s Budget that fuel duty across the UK will remain frozen for the ninth successive year.

Despite the excellent fuel duty freeze from the Government, oil companies are still hitting motorists across Wales and the UK by increasing petrol prices hugely when the international oil price goes up but taking a long time to reduce it when the oil price goes down. Will my hon. Friend work with the Secretary of State for Transport and the Treasury to introduce a “pump watch” regulator, as recommended by FairFuelUK, so that there are fair prices for motorists at the pumps?

There is no greater champion for consumers than my right hon. Friend, but we do not believe that setting up a regulator would be justified, given the costs of doing so. This sector, like every other, is subject to the normal competition and consumer protection law. We are committed to passing on savings to commuters and, due to nine years of fuel duty freezes, the average car driver in Wales and the UK will have saved a cumulative £1,000 by April 2020.

Can the Minister confirm that 30,000 low-income families in Wales will lose £2,500 a year as a result of the imposition of the two-child policy? Does he think that that is fair?

The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions has announced that she will not extend the two-child limit on universal credit to children born before April 2017, when the policy first came into effect. That will benefit about 15,000 families, and the decision restores the original intent of the policy, which will give parents in receipt of universal credit the same choices as those in work.