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DRIVER MISERY: UK diesel prices soar to the highest in Europe

Recent data from the RAC reveals that the UK now holds the unenviable position of having the most expensive diesel in Europe, even after a 5p-a-litre fuel duty reduction introduced in March 2022.

The average cost of diesel at UK pumps currently stands at 155p per litre, making it 5p more costly than in Ireland and Belgium, where the price is 150p.

Despite the duty cut from 57.95p to 52.95p in spring 2022, implemented to counteract the sharp rise in fuel prices following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the UK maintains the highest diesel duty rate in Europe, matched only by Italy. Interestingly, diesel in Italy averages at 148p per litre, 7p cheaper than the UK.

France, with a duty rate just 1p less than the UK at 52p, offers diesel at an average of 146p per litre, 9p cheaper than in the UK. Belgium, with a slightly lower duty of 51p, sells diesel at 150p per litre, 5p less than the UK.

Notably, VAT rates in France and the UK are both at 20%, while Italy and Belgium have higher rates at 22% and 21% respectively, yet still manage lower pump prices. Ireland, with a 6p lower duty rate at 47p and a higher VAT rate of 23%, also has cheaper diesel at 150p per litre.

In contrast, UK petrol prices rank 11th highest in Europe at 149p per litre. Denmark tops the list for the most expensive petrol at 175p per litre, despite having higher duties and VAT rates than the UK.

RAC fuel spokesman Simon Williams said: “Having the most expensive diesel in Europe despite the current 5p duty cut is a very dubious honour.

“This is explained by RAC Fuel Watch calculations which show the average retailer margin on diesel – that’s the difference between the delivered wholesale price and the retail price before VAT – is 18p. That’s a shocking 10p more than the long-term average of 8p.

“Despite the RAC bringing the issue to the attention of Energy Secretary Claire Coutinho in a letter just over a week ago, the price of diesel at the pump has barely fallen, even though the wholesale prices of petrol and diesel are identical at just 111p a litre. The average price of a litre of diesel should really be down to around the 145p level if retailers were charging fairer prices. The margin on petrol is also, in our view, unreasonably high at 13p.

“We can see no good reason why retailers in Great Britain aren’t cutting their prices at the pumps. It’s important to note that in Northern Ireland, where there is greater competition for fuels in the absence of supermarket dominance, the average price of diesel is just 144.9p – 10p less than the UK average, and petrol is 6p cheaper at 142.4p.

“There is cause for hope for fairer fuel prices in the future as the Digital Markets, Competition and Consumers Act became law on Friday, giving new powers to the Competition and Markets Authority to closely monitor road fuel prices and report any sign of malpractice to the Government.”


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