Car Insurance

What’s the UK doing to save money on driving during the cost of living crisis?

Will Kerr's profile picture
Will Kerr

The cost of pretty much everything has been going up lately. Unfortunately, running a car is no exception. We surveyed the UK’s drivers to find out what they’ve done to save money on driving since the cost of living crisis began. 

As costs rise, half of us are driving less.

We know from the latest MOT data that the nation’s mileage has been falling. That’s part of a wider decade-long trend, but clearly lockdown played a part too. Now, with Covid restrictions gone, a new problem is keeping drivers off the roads: inflation. 

We’ve already talked about how recent global events have pushed up the price of fuel, vehicles, repairs, and insurance (and how you can save on all those things). But we were curious to find out how these spiralling costs had actually changed people’s behaviours. 

So, we did the simple thing and asked. Our survey found that two thirds of people had taken some action in response to the crisis. And in a lot of cases, that involved leaving their car parked up…

Our respondents told us that since the cost of living crisis took hold in January 2022, they had:

Walked more.                      24%
Used their car less to save money.                      24%
Looked for a cheaper insurance quote.                      18%
Driven more economically.                      13%
Worked from home more.                      11%
Used public transport more.                      10%
Delayed a purchase of a new or used car.                        7%
Cut back on other expenses to keep their car running.                        7%
Considered selling their car.                        7%
Started cycling more.                        7%
Used the car less, in favour of other transport options.                        49%

Cutting out the odd journey is a great way to save some cash, burn a few calories and help out the environment. And, for the same reason, you could argue that an increase in folks cycling, using public transport or just driving more economically isn’t any bad thing. These results show people are willing to make an effort to avoid using their cars…when they can.

But for those who depend on their vehicles for longer journeys, that’s not going to be an option. The fact that close to one in ten people have cut back on other costs to keep their car running just goes to show that drivers sometimes have little choice but to use their cars.

Likewise, the fifth most popular money-saving tactic we saw was to work from home more – an option many people just won’t have. 

Whatever their circumstances might be, anyone can save money on driving by looking for cheaper car insurance. So it wasn’t surprising to see that one in five people are already on the hunt for a better deal. 

What help do people want to deal with the crisis?

We asked respondents what would most help them save money on driving and keep life affordable. They’d told us they’d like to see: 

Another fuel duty cut                45%
Car insurance that costs less the less you drive                33%
Lower maintenance costs                23%
Discounted parking                19%
A usage-based car tax                18%
More regular buses                16%
Better charging infrastructure for electric cars                11%
Better cycle routes                10%
Monthly payment options for car insurance                10%
Discounted tolls                 7%

Another fuel duty cut came out top of the wish list, and with prices at the pump soaring that’s not so surprising. It seems fairly unlikely to happen though. The Government already cut fuel duty by 5p back in March (although this saving wasn’t necessarily passed on to drivers). 

Another fuel duty cut would be popular with drivers. But it might not be effective – or fair – way to save money on driving.

We argued at the time that this wouldn’t be enough to make a real difference – on top of which, it wasn’t really the fairest way forward. We started By Miles because we knew that lower mileage drivers were getting a bad deal on car insurance. The fuel duty cut is another example of that. It’s most helpful to those who drive furthest – and we know from our own research that those people are generally better off. This group already benefit massively from the way Vehicle Excise Duty (also known as road tax) is charged. There’s no discount for people who drive less (the poorest) but people with newer, more efficient cars (the richest) do pay less. 

Why not help the people who need it most?

If cutting fuel duty isn’t the answer, what is?

There’s not a lot we can do about fuel prices, but we’re happy to say we can help with the second most popular item on the list: car insurance that costs less the less you drive. After all, it’s what we’ve always done. 

With our policies, you pay a fixed cost that covers your car while it’s parked, and the rest is all based on how far you actually drive. That means if you’ve been cutting back on driving in order to save money on petrol, you’ll be saving money on insurance at the same time. And with all the blows to the wallet drivers have been taking recently, it’s nice to be able to hit back with a double whammy of your own. (It’d be a triple whammy if road tax becomes usage-based too, so think about signing our petition). 

Most people could save over £300 by switching to By Miles, money that could go to excellent use on things other than insurance. So, if you find you’re driving less these days, why not get a quote and see if you could save?

Other ways to save money on your driving.