Fuel Campaigners Demand Inquiry over UK Pump Prices.
Fuel campaigners demand inquiry and regulator over UK’s ‘rip-off pump prices’. The Petrol Retailers’ Association tells Sky News that its members’ own rising costs and a weaker pound are contributing to rising pump prices, even as wholesale fuel costs fall back.
A group campaigning for lower fuel prices has demanded urgent intervention, claiming drivers are being “fleeced” as costs continue to hit record levels. FairFuelUK (FFUK), which has backing from haulage and logistics lobby groups, told Sky News it was clear that the Competition and Markets Authority should look at how “rip-off” pump prices are calculated after President Biden ordered a similar investigation in the United States.
It also called for the government to establish an independent pricing watchdog, claiming that “faceless businesses” were currently “fleecing drivers to the tune of £5.9m per day more than necessary”. “If gas, electricity, water and telecoms get price protection bodies, why shouldn’t motorists have one too?”, it argued.
Retailers responded by pointing to a multitude of factors behind rising prices, not just wholesale costs.
FairFuelUK spoke up after the AA released data showing that a 5.6p fall in wholesale diesel and unleaded costs last week was yet to filter through and ease record pump prices.
There have been growing suggestions in recent weeks of profiteering by retailers – filling stations that failed to reflect the collapse in oil costs at the start of the pandemic.
Motoring organisations have widely said that the first lockdown should have seen prices tumble below £1 a litre if they were to truly reflect the market.
They argued that margins were being protected at a time of low fuel demand.
Pump prices have been rising steadily this year – hitting record levels in recent weeks – reflecting rising Brent crude oil costs above $80 a barrel compared to $50 at the end of 2020.
The AA highlighted Experian Catalist data showing that price rises were, at best, slowing in response to the decline in wholesale prices.
The latest figures available, covering average UK pump costs on Tuesday, showed unleaded at 147.64 pence-a-litre. Diesel prices stood at 150.80p.
The motoring group’s own recent survey showed that 43% of drivers were cutting back on car use because of the record prices.
Luke Bosdet, the AA’s fuel price spokesman, said: “Oil’s resurgence back above $80 a barrel this week, despite yesterday’s decision by the US, UK and other nations to release oil from strategic reserves into the market, has been a blow for drivers and consumers looking for at least some relief from the inflation threatening Christmas spending plans.
“Even so, there was a big drop in wholesale petrol and diesel costs last week and, so far, the fuel trade has shown little sign of passing on the savings. Current petrol price highs come off wholesale costs exceeding 54p a litre in the second week of November. A fortnight on, they are down to 49p. Consumers and businesses cannot afford for retailers to hold back potential price cuts of £2 to £3 a tank. Hanging on to see if costs will recover and therefore supposedly justify keeping prices high cannot be an option for an essential item of the weekly spend.”
The Petrol Retailers’ Association (PRA), representing two-thirds of all UK forecourts, told Sky News that factors including oil price fluctuations and a weakening of the pound – compared to dollar-priced Brent – were behind continued record prices.