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Fuel duty rise 'should be scrapped'
Shadow chancellor Ed Balls has urged the Government to postpone a planned 3p rise in fuel duty until at least January
Labour is to try to pressure Chancellor George Osborne into scrapping a 3p rise in fuel duty due to take effect in August.
Shadow chancellor Ed Balls warned that the increase would only worsen the recession squeeze and urged the Government to postpone it until at least January.
He said the delay could be funded by closing tax loopholes and using the £500 million underspend from the Olympics budget. Labour will table an amendment to Budget legislation next week and try to rally cross-party support for the move.
In an article for The Sun, Mr Balls said the 3p increase would "send the wrong signal".
"With Britain now in a double-dip recession, the last thing our economy needs right now is another tax rise adding to the squeeze," he said. "The Government should be giving our economy a boost - not clobbering families, businesses and pensioners just at the wrong time."
Campaign group FairFuelUK backed Labour's calls to scrap August's 3p duty rise, saying the move made no sense either politically or economically.
The organisation's national spokesman, Quentin Willson, said: "Hitting families and hard-pressed businesses with this rise when we are back in recession will be a toxic issue for voters. Dozens of coalition MPs know in their hearts and their heads that this rise is ill-advised and unnecessary."
But Sustrans, the green transport charity promoting travel on foot, bike or public transport, said it opposed the call by Mr Balls.
Jason Torrance, Sustrans policy director, said: "There is clearly a problem when hard-working families are facing difficult decisions about whether they can even afford to get to work, or do the weekly shop. We need investment in a transport system that gives us all a choice in how we get around.
"While reducing fuel duty may seem popular in the short-term, it'll do little to help us all get around for our everyday journeys. A quarter of British people already don't have access to a car. Labour's plan does nothing for them, instead forcing people into expensive car ownership."