By a Newsnet reporter

SNP MSP John Finnie has urged Chancellor George Osborne not to go ahead with his planned hike in fuel duty after figures revealed the extent of the rising cost burden on police forces and fire brigades across Scotland.

The cost of fuel for fire brigades more than doubled between 2002 and 2009, the last year for which figures are available, while police forces are expected to spend an estimated £7,885,000 this year on fuel in comparison with £4,810,000 in 2002-03

The figures also show the amount of duty paid by fire brigades to the Treasury in 2009 was over £953,000 compared to over £563,720 in 2002 – an increase of 69%.

Scotland’s police forces are estimated to pay over £3.4million to the UK Exchequer this financial year in comparison to £2.2million paid in 2003 – an increase of 53%.

UK fuel duty rates are amongst the highest in Europe.  However the fuel tax bills faced by the police and fire services are in stark contrast to the treatment afforded to private bus companies.  

Thanks to a Westminster provision, privatised bus companies operating local bus services receive a rebate of 41 pence per litre on fuel duty via the Bus Service Operators Grant (BSOG), but this same rebate is not extended to public services like the police or fire brigade.  Management of the BSOG in Scotland was devolved to the Scottish Parliament in 2010. 

Mr Finnie, SNP MSP for Highlands and Islands and a former police officer, said:

“Record fuel prices are damaging to our emergency services – as these new figures clearly show.  That is why the Chancellor must rethink his position on implementing his hike in fuel duty, which will only add to the pressures these emergency services are under.

“It is a scandal that fire brigades are spending more than double the amount of money of fuel in the space of only seven years.”

Although it must still pay fuel duty, the Lifeboat Service has been exempt from VAT on fuel since 1977, however a similar exemption has not been afforded to the Air Ambulance Service or other emergency services.  Only Westminster has the power to alter the eligibility conditions for fuel duty and VAT.

Calling on some of the record revenues from the North Sea to be used to help the situation, Mr Finnie added:

“The figures show the Treasury has benefitted from a huge increase in the amount of duty paid – with the cash almost doubling between 2003 and 2009.

“This surge in funds to the UK Exchequer should be used to help offset the impact of high fuel prices on our essential emergency services.

“While emergency services budgets are tight, we must do everything in our power to help support them – not pile on even more pressure with higher costs.

“With record North Sea oil and gas revenues flowing to the Treasury, Scotland needs to see some of that money being used to bring fuel prices down.

“For too long now emergency services, households and businesses have called for action to tackle rising fuel costs.  If the UK Government refuses to do this then the powers must be passed to the Scottish Parliament so that it can.”


2012-02-21 19:57

Why do the emergency services pay any duty at all on fuel, surely they should get fuel at cost price.
Hing em high
2012-02-21 20:02

You are asumimng that the Brit Govt cares anything at all for human life.

Vincent McDee
2012-02-21 20:30

What prices do the Army, Navy and Air force pay for their fuel uses?

Why can not the Emergency Services procure their fuels in the same way?

Self procurement of fuels in the unified Scottish Police, Fire Brigade and Ambulance Service, after Independence, will fix the problem.
2012-02-21 20:52

Why not give them the “red” diesel criteria that farmers had (or have).

Why would you constrain emergency services – given Scotland’s population distribution we are being disadvantaged once again.
2012-02-21 21:14

0/T but this really needs to be highlighted as it shows how some people in England view this unequal union.…/…
2012-02-21 21:34

Quoting peter,aberdeens  hire:

0/T but this really needs to be highlighted as it shows how some people in England view this unequal union.

Last time they did that the Welsh dynamited the pipes.…/… Although I still maintain it was to put out the fires of set alight English second homes.

The problem is a high density of rich people with appliances, swimming pools and the like, overloading the capacity of the environment to sustain their water use. Not our problem, unless of course they wish to utilise their proud free market philosophy and buy it from us.

K Mackay
2012-02-21 23:08

They’re going to be stretched, having to buy Trident, water and electricity, not to mention oil from us.

I’m starting to think that when they talk about how we couldn’t survive without the union they’re really talking about themselves. It’s almost like double speak.

Strange times

call me dave
2012-02-22 01:24

Quoting peter,aberdeens  hire:

0/T but this really needs to be highlighted as it shows how some people in England view this unequal union.…/…

The Welsh are not amused from my reading some of the comments. Geesh!

Can’t understand why were all in it together aren’t we. .eh! aren’t we . . !

2012-02-22 01:31

There’s only one thing we’re all in together cmd.

We’re all in the S***E together!

2012-02-21 21:19

When you consider how much of that black stuff we suck out of the North Sea, it just seems plain dumb that our services, I’ll say that again – OUR services, have to struggle with fuel costs.

It’s a bit like owning a cattle farm and instead of steak for dinner, you have to make do with sausages.
2012-02-21 21:29

Why the hell are our emergency services paying VAT, not just on fuel but their equipment as well.

I find it absolutely scandalous that the British Treasury should find it acceptable to charge VAT on fuel used by ALLemergency services.

It is quite obvious that by making a saving on VAT payments the emergency services are freed up, financially, to buy either more necessary equipment or hire more personnel. Surely in this day and age of continual cut backs, Wastemonster enforced, it is even critical that our emergency services are freed up to ensure they have everything in place that they can conceivably need and not worry about where the next gallon of fuel is coming from.
2012-02-21 22:29

O/T – but it seems the UK goverment’s new work experience scheme for the young unemployed is another one for the bin .

Tesco have decided to withdraw from the scheme while Argos and Superdrug have suspended involvement.
2012-02-21 23:31

# Peter, Aberdeenshire. Liked it especially this one…
What happened to England’s plans of building a reservoir in Oxfordshire for the benefit of Thames Water? So the people of Oxfordshire object to providing water to their fellow rich English people so were back to plundering from the poor Welsh neighbours? Interesting that the north of England wasn’t mentioned by the Mayor of London, no he confines his ambitions to taking from Wales and Scotland. Carwyn Jones may be a push over, but I don’t fancy Boris’ chances dealing with Alex Salmond!
2012-02-22 01:36

O/T This latest piece of skulduggery from the hootsmon.

The SNP publish a damning list of ammendments to the Scotland bill that the Tories have rejected. Instead of it being a headline they choose to print an anti-independence headline and give a Gove as much publicity as possible. Then, as an afterthought, they add the real news.

No doubt NNS will have this as a headline shortly.…/…
2012-02-22 07:50

The tax regime here is simply nuts. For government departments to charge each other taxes is simply crazy. This matter has been addressed along with the horrendous levels of fuel tax on a commodity that is beyond the control of the government, by the SDA.
When the Israelies bomb Iran, matter or weeks rather than months, the price of oil will quadruple. Scotland plc will shut down as no-one other than the very wealthy will be able to afford petrol.
This is a tax situation that has gone beyond crazy.
2012-02-22 09:18

It is indeed ludicrous that all our emergency services pay duty and tax on fuel bills. The money to run these services comes from our pocket- through duty and tax- to the emergency services and is then clawed back through more duty and tax so the treasury gets to count it twice whilst we as always get stuffed twice. Unless of course you happen to use commercial aeroplanes in which case you don’t pay any fuel duties at all.

AS announced plans last week for a £1bn a year oil fund to be set up after independence. I would like the next announcement on this to be that all emergency services will be exempt from tax and duty on their fuel in an independent Scotland. Then we might have some money spare for training and providing a better service to the public, as someone commented earlier Westminster don’t care too much for public service though- it’s like some form of swear word- have you seen the latest that a private security firm is to build and run a police station in Lincolnshire
2012-02-22 20:43

The figures above are for fuel duty not VAT. As local council services Police and Fire are exempt from VAT. As part of the restructure to a single service that exemption may be lost. If that is the case then the bill is likely to be many £millions. That in turn will result in Police officers and firefighters jobs being cut to feed westminsters insatiable apitite for Scottish resources.

Independence – protecting your communities and making them safer.

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