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 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.
“If gas, electricity, water and telecoms get price protection bodies, why shouldn’t motorists have one too?”, it argued.
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.
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.
A recent AA survey showed that 43% of drivers were cutting back on car use because of 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.”
The Petrol Retailers’ Association (PRA), representing two-thirds of all UK forecourts, said factors including oil price fluctuations and a weakening of the pound – compared to dollar-priced Brent – were behind continued record prices.
Executive director, Gordon Balmer, said: “In addition, members are having to suffer acute cost increases with labour going up on the back of the National Minimum wage rises, the prospect of National Insurance increases and in some cases a near trebling of electricity prices compared to 2020.
“It must be remembered that retailers earn only very small margins from significant levels of fuel card transactions and this needs to be accounted for when assessing gross margins.
“It is our very firm opinion that there is no need for a government control regulatory framework for fuel prices as this will reduce future investment into new facilities such as EV charging points and reduce competition.”