Running a car is an expensive business.  Road tax and insurance premiums have risen over the last few years, and petrol prices are high, which particularly affects rural areas.   

According to the RAC, the average cost of running a new car (for those lucky enough to have one) rose to £5,869 last year, with fuel (£1,300) and depreciation (£3,072) the most significant expenses.     

High fuel prices are the knock-on effect of the high international price of oil which inevitably leads to inflated costs on the forecourt.  But of course taxation adds to the burden.

So I was pleased that the Chancellor's Budget last week gave help on fuel tax.  He cut the main fuel duty rate by 1 pence with immediate effect and introduced a new fair fuel stabiliser.     

We inherited a fuel duty escalator from the last Government which comprised seven fuel duty increases.  Three had already taken place by the time of the Budget, adding just over 3 pence to the price of petrol, and there would have been another increase of almost 5 pence per litre this April.

By introducing the fair fuel stabiliser we have cancelled this escalator for the duration of this Parliament because of the high price of oil.  We are paying for this by increasing the tax on fuel companies, who have been making unexpected profits on the back of high oil prices.     

While these measures alone will not end the pressure on business costs and family budgets, they show that we are doing what we can to help at this challenging economic time.

The high price of oil also had an impact on the cost of heating over the winter.  Rural areas like ours which are not connected to the gas grid are reliant on heating oil.     

Just before Christmas I took up the 70 per cent increase in heating oil prices with the Office of Fair Trading and the Department of Energy and Climate Change.

I'm pleased that the Energy Minister, Charles Hendry, shares my concerns on this, and the Department of Energy has ordered an OFT investigation that will report before next winter.  I will update constituents then.

Michelle Taylor