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UK drivers still being overcharged at the pump despite recent price drop says RAC

Despite a notable drop in petrol prices during October, a new report from RAC Fuel Watch reveals that drivers in the UK continue to pay excessively high amounts for fuel.

The average price of unleaded petrol decreased by 2.6p per litre, going from 157.12p to 154.53p last month. However, the RAC's analysis of the wholesale market indicates that petrol prices remain significantly inflated, with the ideal price being around 145p per litre. Similarly, even though diesel saw a decrease of one penny to 161.4p in October, it should ideally be sold for 156p per litre.

Surprisingly, data from the fuel finder feature in the free myRAC app highlights that Grindley Brook Garage, an independent station in Whitchurch, Shropshire, charges just 140.9p for petrol. This is almost 14p lower than the national average, which equates to a substantial saving of £7.50 per tank. The app also reveals that within a five-mile radius of Whitchurch, three other independent retailers sell petrol for less than the UK average, at under 150p per litre. Additionally, diesel at Grindley Brook is priced at 151.9p per litre, nearly 10p below the national average, resulting in a saving of over £5 for a full tank.

In contrast, in the neighboring town of Nantwich, located 13 miles away, the cheapest petrol within a five-mile vicinity of the town center costs 152.9p per litre—7p more than at stations around Whitchurch. The lowest-priced diesel in Nantwich is 159.9p per litre, which is 4p less than the average near Whitchurch.

Moving on to Northern Ireland, petrol prices averaged at 150.02p per litre on October 31st—4.5p cheaper than the UK average. Diesel in Northern Ireland stood at 157.48p per litre, marking a 4p reduction.

Further analysis by the RAC indicates that membership-only retailer Costco sells unleaded petrol at an average of 141.7p per litre across its 20 sites. This is 13p lower than the UK average, and their lowest price is 138.9p per litre in Birmingham. The average price for diesel at Costco is 151.7p per litre, which is 10p below the national average. However, at their Derby site, diesel is being sold for 148.9p per litre.

In stark contrast, the average prices at the four major supermarket chains nationally were 151.72p per litre for petrol, a decrease of 2.3p in October. Nevertheless, this is almost 11p more expensive than prices at independently run Grindley Brook in Shropshire. Supermarket diesel ended October at 159.24p per litre, which represents an increase of nearly a penny in the month and is over 7p higher than the price at Grindley Brook.

With such clear discrepancies evident in fuel prices, UK drivers are increasingly seeking out more affordable options. Independently run stations, such as Grindley Brook Garage, and membership-only retailers like Costco are becoming popular choices for drivers looking to save money at the pump.

RAC fuel spokesman Simon Williams said: “While four months of rising petrol prices came to an end in October, it’s definitely no cause for celebration that the drop was only 2p a litre as our data shows it should have been far greater. Instead, drivers will be outraged to learn they are still not being charged a fair price at the pumps by the big four supermarkets which dominate UK fuel retailing.

“This is dramatically demonstrated by the fact that one small independent retailer in rural Shropshire is selling petrol for 11p cheaper than the supermarkets.

“Our data clearly shows the supermarkets, like all fuel retailers, are benefitting from lower wholesale costs but once again aren’t passing these savings on to their forecourt customers.

“Despite the Competition and Markets Authority’s investigation concluding in the summer that the supermarkets had overcharged drivers by an incredible £900m last year, history sadly seems to be repeating itself.

“Every day the supermarkets put off reducing their prices to fairer levels that reflect the lower wholesale market, is another day of extra profits for them, and another day of drivers having to fork out more money than they should have to for their fuel. This is all made worse by the fact that fuel duty is currently being discounted by 5p a litre to ease the burden on drivers in the cost-of-living crisis – a duty cut that drivers simply aren’t benefitting from.

“We highlighted these issues to the CMA, the Treasury and the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero last week, so were pleased to see that Energy Secretary Claire Coutinho has written to retailers making it clear they must pass on savings to drivers otherwise she will name and shame them.”

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