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UK motorists are government 'wallets on wheels'

The AA has dubbed British motorists 'wallets on wheels' after it emerged that the treasury is raking in around £1,100 in taxes for every motorist this year. The figures emerged after the Local Government Association (LGA) responded to government criticism over a £10 billion road repair backlog. The LGA pointed out that the Treasury will collect £38 billion from motorists this financial year, while at the same time cutting road maintenance budgets by 20%.

The AA has dubbed British motorists 'wallets on wheels' after it emerged that the treasury is raking in around £1,100 in taxes for every motorist this year. The figures emerged after the Local Government Association (LGA) responded to government criticism over a £10 billion road repair backlog. The LGA pointed out that the Treasury will collect £38 billion from motorists this financial year, while at the same time cutting road maintenance budgets by 20%. The government take of £1,117 per driver this year is up £28 on last year. The figures are made up of Vehicle Excise Duty, Fuel Duty and VAT.

Councils had also been accused of treating motorists as 'cash cows' in parking charges and fines but point out that they collect on average just £35 per year from each driver. Chairman of the LGA's economy and transport board, Peter Box, commented: "Councils are on the side of hard-pressed motorists, keeping a lid on parking charges and fixing more potholes than ever before, in the face of deep funding cuts imposed by the Government. The stark reality is that the average car driver is paying 30 times more to fill the Treasury's coffers to use a transport system that is crumbling under decades of underfunding. The backlog in repairs is growing longer each year with the town hall bill to clear it at £10.5 billion and rising. That is why councils now need increased and consistent highways funding to invest in the widespread resurfacing projects desperately needed for a long-term improvement."

The AA were not convinced by the LGA's argument, though and a spokesman commented: "Whichever way they turn drivers are wallets on wheels for the government and local councils – not only do they pay motoring taxes to the government and parking charges to local councils most also pay council tax, a proportion of which should go towards the roads too. The problem is that not enough of what is taken by either is spent on maintaining the roads. Nearly everything that moves in the UK uses roads and so they are vital to our economy and well-being. Politicians have to make tough decisions when it comes to spending but maintaining the integrity of our road system never seems to be high enough up the political agenda."

The government's new transport minister, Robert Goodwill, defended their stance on road maintenance, saying: "Councils have been given billions by the Government for road maintenance and filling-in potholes on local roads and we expect them to use it."

Despite the protestations from both sides, neither suggested any cut for hard pressed motorists.

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