Drivers in the UK could face a future of paying to drive on longer journeys as the government is said to be considering a network of toll roads.
There is currently only one toll road in the UK, located in the West Midlands, but more could arise if the measure comes into force across Britain to tackle both a cut in fuel duty and a fall in revenues from the tax which has come about with the rising popularity of petrol cars.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak has signalled he will cut fuel duty, which currently stands at 58p a litre, as a result of a staggering increase in petrol prices in the wake of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, with government sources suggesting he is likely to reduce the tax by 5p per litre in his spring statement on Wednesday, 23 March.
The one existing toll road is owned by a private investment firm and charges £7.10 on weekdays for cars, but it could be used as a model if the government implements tolls across the country.
Speaking to The Times about the potential changes, a source for Downing Street said: "It's definitely being taken very seriously in Downing Street. The policy unit is giving it a thorough look and the problems with fuel duty now make it more urgent."
Ministers are reported as being divided over whether to introduce temporary tolls in the medium-term, or whether to make them a permanent feature of British roads.
Sunak has stressed a determination to help families with the increasing cost of living when he gives his statement tomorrow, explaining: "Where we can make a difference, of course we will."
Speaking on BBC's Sunday Morning at the weekend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer said he 'can't comment on specific things', though added: "But what I would say, I understand that, I have a rural constituency, people are incredibly reliant on their cars and this is one of the biggest bills that people face, watching it go up, right, we're all seeing that, when we're filling up our cars. I get that."
On Sunday, figures from data firm Experian Catalist revealed the average cost of a litre of petrol in the UK to be 163.5p for petrol and 173.4p for diesel.
If reductions are introduced on fuel duty, they will likely be time-limited due to the government's net-zero commitments.
As well as the cut on fuel duty, the government is expected to announce a total ban on the sale of petrol and diesel cars by 2030.