Petrol prices: Howard Cox calls for cuts to fuel duty
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The RAC has said petrol retailers are overcharging UK motorists by failing to pass on wholesale price cuts. The motoring company said the “scandalous” refusal led to drivers paying £5 million more per day – or £156 million in total – in December 2021.
The news came at a time when petrol costs reached an all-time high, and the Transport Secretary claimed the Government has “done its part” to tackle skyrocketing fuel prices.
The wholesale price of oil jumped by 10 percent in September, and the well-documented lorry driver shortage led to drivers queuing for hours at a time to fill up their vehicles for a period in the autumn.
Pump prices fell in December by 2p per litre – but the RAC estimated the price should have been dropped by 12p in line with lowered wholesale costs.
The traditional long-term margin of 6p a litre seems to have been abandoned, as retailers took an average of 16p a litre on petrol and 12.5p on diesel.
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RAC fuel spokesman Simon Williams said: “December was a rotten month for drivers as they were taken advantage of by retailers who rewrote their pump price strategy, costing motorists millions of pounds as a result.
“Their resistance to cutting prices and to only pass on a fraction of the savings they were making from lower wholesale costs is nothing short of scandalous.
“The 10p extra retailers have added to their long-term margin of 6p a litre has led to petrol car drivers paying £5m more a day than they previously would have.”
Mr Williams said retailers had previously “done the right thing” and reduced pump prices when wholesale costs were cut – but this is apparently no longer the case.
He continued: “This time they’ve stood strong, taking advantage of all the media talk about ‘higher energy prices’ and banked on the oil price rising again and catching up with their artificially-inflated prices, which it has now done.”
The refusal to change petrol prices in line with wholesale costs is a double whammy for UK drivers, as Mr Williams explained it also leads to VAT increases paid for by motorists.
Mr Williams said: “The trouble is every extra penny they take as margin leads to drivers paying even more as VAT gets added on top at the end of the forecourt transaction.
“This means the Treasury’s coffers have been substantially boosted on the back of the retailers’ action.”
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How much does petrol cost now?
According to the latest Government statistics for the first week of January, the average pump price was 145.04p for petrol and 148.85 per litre for diesel.
For an average 52-litre car, such as a Ford Focus, you would be set back £75 each time you fill up.
The RAC said in December it cost UK motorists an average of £6 more to fill up a typical family car than if petrol retailers had stuck to taking the traditional 6p margin.
It also estimated diesel vehicle owners paid £4 more than they could have.
According to the RAC, ASDA has the cheapest fuel in the UK currently, with petrol coming in at 141.81p per litre, closely followed by Sainsbury’s on 142.57p.
Northern Ireland is the cheapest place to fill up your vehicle out of the four nations.
The RAC has urged the Government to put pressure on retailers to pass on the savings to customers.
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