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Drivers in England, Scotland and Wales STILL being overcharged at the pumps, reveals RAC data

Updated: Jun 20

New data from the RAC highlights a pressing issue for drivers in England, Wales and Scotland, as the average prices for petrol and diesel remain unjustifiably high, despite a drop in wholesale costs since the end of April.

According to the RAC, the average price for a litre of petrol in the UK is 146.28p, which is 5p higher than it should be. In Northern Ireland, the same litre costs just 141.1p. The situation for diesel is even more concerning. UK drivers are paying 151.5p per litre, while Northern Ireland drivers pay 141.9p. This discrepancy has positioned the UK as the most expensive place in Europe for diesel over the past seven weeks, with a litre costing 8p more than in Finland and 20p more than the EU average.

For drivers of a typical 55-litre family car, this overcharging translates to an extra £3 for petrol and £5.50 for diesel each time they fill up. Currently, a full tank of petrol costs £80.50, and diesel costs £83.30 on average in the UK.

The RAC report points to excessively high retailer margins as a key factor. The current average margin stands at 14p per litre for petrol and 16p for diesel, compared to the long-term average of 8p per litre. In contrast, margins in Northern Ireland are significantly lower at 10p for petrol and 9p for diesel. Supermarkets, which dominate UK fuel sales, are taking margins of 12p and 14p respectively, a sharp increase from the 3p and 8p they took in 2019 before the pandemic.

RAC’s Fuel Watch data indicates that wholesale petrol prices are averaging 108p per litre. With a reasonable margin of 10p, the average price should be 141p, the same as in Northern Ireland and 5p less than the current UK average. If the long-term margin of 8p was applied, the price would be 139p per litre.

With the General Election distracting political attention, there is little focus on the unreasonably high margins that drivers are facing. As a result, motorists continue to bear the brunt of inflated fuel prices.

RAC head of policy, Simon Williams, said: “While there has been much focus on fuel since the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) concluded the biggest retailers had overcharged drivers by £900m in 2022, margins are once again staying persistently high – and drivers are paying the price.

“Our data clearly shows that pump prices haven’t fallen in line with the reduction in wholesale prices, so drivers across the UK – with the exception of those in Northern Ireland where fairer prices are charged – are once again losing several pounds every time they fill up.

“Having monitored prices for so long we believe there’s no good reason for retailers in Great Britain not cutting their prices at the pumps far further. We can only think they’re hoping no one will notice due to the distraction of the General Election.

“We hope that the CMA is aware of what is going on and will use this to bring retailers into line as soon as it’s able to – something which is so desperately needed given drivers in Northern Ireland are paying so much less for the very same fuel. It’s important to realise that the big four supermarkets have a far smaller presence there than on the other side of the Irish Sea as they only operate around 6% of the Northern Ireland’s 580 forecourts. This compares to supermarkets running a fifth of the UK’s 8,300 forecourts.

“Whichever party, or parties, form the next government, it’s essential they ensure the new Pumpwatch scheme, which became law just before the election, is set up as quickly as possible. This will compel every retailer to submit their prices to the official body within half an hour of changing them so they can be used in apps, such as the myRAC fuel finder, to help drivers find the cheapest fuel near them. It is hoped this will spark greater competition among retailers.

“The RAC, however, believes the second element of the scheme – the creation of a price monitoring body – is even more important so long as the CMA has sufficient powers to hold retailers, who don’t treat customers fairly, to account.”


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