Fuel Retailers Accused of Exploiting General Election Focus to Maintain High Prices

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Fuel Retailers Accused of Exploiting General Election Focus to Maintain High Prices

Fuel retailers in the UK have been accused of keeping prices artificially high, exploiting the public’s focus on the General Election. The RAC has claimed that prices for petrol and diesel are “far higher than they should be” as wholesale costs have dropped since the end of April, yet retailers’ margins remain “persistently high.”

The current average price of a litre of petrol in the UK forecourts stands at 146.3p, which is “5p more expensive than it should be,” according to the RAC. In contrast, Northern Ireland is charging 141.1p for the same product. Additionally, the UK has had Europe’s most expensive diesel for seven weeks, with a litre costing an average of 151.5p, nearly 10p higher than Northern Ireland’s 141.9p.

RAC figures reveal that retailers’ margins – the difference between the purchase price of fuel and the pump price – are 14p per litre for petrol and 16p per litre for diesel. This is significantly higher than the long-term average of 8p per litre for both fuels.

High Retail Margins and Consumer Impact

Simon Williams, head of policy at the RAC, said: “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.”

Williams suggested that retailers in Great Britain might be hoping the ongoing General Election would distract the public from the high fuel prices. “We believe there’s no good reason for retailers in Great Britain not to cut their prices at the pumps far further. We hope that the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is aware of what is going on and will use this to bring retailers into line as soon as it’s able to.”

Regional Differences

Pump prices in Northern Ireland are generally lower than the rest of the UK, partly due to competition from forecourts in the Republic of Ireland.

Independent fuel retailers in the UK have defended their pricing, citing cost increases from various factors such as business rates, energy bills, and wages.

Calls for Regulatory Action

The RAC’s call for the CMA to address the high retail margins underscores the ongoing tension between consumer advocacy groups and fuel retailers. As the election period continues, the spotlight remains on fuel pricing strategies and their impact on consumers.

For further updates on fuel prices and regulatory actions, stay tuned to local news outlets and official statements from the RAC and CMA.

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