What does the Autumn Statement mean for motorists?

Carlton Boyce / 26 November 2015

A fuel duty freeze, pothole fund and an end to false whiplash claims.

The Autumn Statement contained a number of surprises, not least for the motorist. 

While more funding for potholes might have been predicted, the clampdown on fraudulent whiplash injuries certainly wasn’t. Few expected the diesel car supplement to be extended to 2021 either, despite the ongoing Volkswagen cheating scandal.

So to try to help make sense of the changes, we’ll do our best to explain exactly what the autumn statement means for motorists. 

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Dealing with fraudulent whiplash injuries costs the insurance industry £2 billion a year or almost £90 per policy, a figure the Government says, “is out of all proportion to any genuine injury suffered.”

The aim is to move towards providing physiotherapy and other medical interventions, instead of cash compensation, something George Osborne hopes will end the ‘cash for crash’ culture.

He also announced the upper limit on claims made through the Small Claims Court will rise from £1,000 to £5,000, a move that will reduce the cost of making a claim where only minor injury has been caused.

The Chancellor expects the cost of the average car insurance policy to drop by up to £50 a year as a result of these moves. 

Huw Evans, the Director General of the Association of British Insurers, said of the changes: “This is a significant breakthrough in tackling the compensation culture and is good news for motorists.”

Find out how to avoid becoming a victim of the 'crash for cash' scam.

Diesel car supplement

The 3% diesel supplement on company cars was due to end in 2016 but Mr Osborne has now extended it to 2021.

There was no explicit link made between the extension of the supplement and the ongoing Volkswagen emissions scandal, but it is a further sign that diesel cars are rapidly falling out of favour with politicians and motorists alike.

Petrol myths busted.

Department of Transport budget cut – and increased

The Department of Transport is facing a 37% cut in its annual operational budget from 2016. However, its capital budget has been increased by 50% to £61 billion.

Pothole fund

A five-year £250 million ‘pothole fund’ has been created. This will be paid for out of the Department of Transport’s increased capital budget and while this is good news, many believe it is too little, too late.

With the average cost of repairing a pothole being around £75 a time, the new fund is enough to repair 3.3 million holes in total. This might sound like a lot, but an analysis by City A.M. estimates that the county of Devon alone may have almost three million to repair.

Read our guide to claiming for pothole damage.

Operation Stack

A further £250 million is to be spent on building a permanent lorry park to ease the congestion caused when Operation Stack is put into operation.

Operation Stack, a contingency plan that parks lorries on the M20 when there is a disruption to Channel crossings, caused widespread disruption recently during industrial action at Calais.

Duty on fuel

As previously announced, the duty on fuel has been frozen until March 2016.

Electric and hybrid vehicles

Support for electric and other ultra-low emission vehicles continues, with up to £600 million being invested in the next five years to support buyers and manufacturers.

While the current £5,000 grant for buyers of electric cars wasn’t explicitly mentioned, George Osborne did say that the Government remains committed to seeing all new cars being zero emission by 2040. Given that, I can’t see the grant being withdrawn in the near future, which is good news for those thinking of buying one.

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Do you have any thoughts on what the autumn statement means for you as a motorist? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section! 

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