The man with the battered red suitcase has made an appearance and (unlike the fat man in the red suit), he’s not here to give us presents. And if he did, he’d probably tax us for them. That’s right, the Chancellor of the Exchequer (he’s the one with the red suitcase) has made his March announcement and (believe it or not) there’s some good news for drivers.

The Chancellor froze fuel duty at 57.95p, for the seventh year running. It’s a step that will save car drivers around £130 and van drivers £350 a year, which will no doubt please Britain’s 38 million motorists.

Other good news includes the promise of £690 million to tackle congestion and air pollution. It’s expected that local councils will have to bid for the money with hand-outs given to those with the most compelling cases. However, although there’s cash for congestion, there’s no separate funding for road maintenance. That’s despite the RAC having statistics that show pothole related accidents rose by nearly a quarter (24%) in the last few months of 2016 compared to the same period in 2015.

Plus, the North and Midlands have been singled out for better commutes as the Chancellor has allocated £90 million and £23 million respectively to sort out problem roads and pinch points. It should provide some relief to travellers in the North West, who are forced down to a not so speedy average of 21 mph during typical rush hour traffic. It’s the slowest average speed of all English regions with the exception of London (where traffic can end up at a painfully s-l-o-w 3.5 mph (Richmond upon Thames – we’re looking at you).

The Treasury have also made their intentions clear when it comes to future proofing our roads, with £270 million set aside to invest in electric car technology, driverless cars and robotics. It’s a sound move that puts future road safety first as human error has been shown to cause 95% of all car accidents.

VED (Vehicle Excise Duty – or road tax) remains unchanged but will be subject to inflation; that means cars, vans and motorbikes registered before April 2017, will end up paying around £5 more. Heavy goods vehicles won’t be subject to inflation increases. And let’s not forget, that a whole new set of VED rules come into force from 1 April – so to recap read our simples guide to Vehicle Excise Duty.

Insurance Premium Tax (IPT) also remains static at 10%. IPT is already set to rise by 2% in June as announced in the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement last year – a rise which will most likely impact car insurance and see drivers faced with even higher premiums. But just because premiums may rise, doesn’t mean you need to just sit back and take it. There are some simple ways to lower the cost of your insurance and one of them is to comparethemarket.com – so why not start a quote, you might be in for a surprise – like half of our customers who could save themselves £282** – surely that’s worth a little look?

**Based on online independent research by Consumer Intelligence during May 2017. 50% of consumers could achieve this saving with comparethemarket.com motor insurance.

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