Pumpwatch scheme real-time petrol price tool explained

The government is holding a discussion on the Pumpwatch scheme this week, but what is it and how can it help drive down petrol prices?


This week a new consultation is taking place in government around a new scheme called Pumpwatch. Once completed and launched, the new tool could help UK motorists save money at the pump - here’s how it could happen.

What is Pumpwatch?

Pumpwatch in its simplest form is a real-time data source showing how much petrol retailers are charging for a litre of petrol and diesel. The new tool means that motorists can shop around for the best deal instead of just heading to their nearest or most convenient petrol station. 

How will it work?

The idea is to make petrol retailers share their petrol and diesel prices within 30 minutes of making any change to the price. There is a stumbling block with this part of the scheme, and it will mean that a new law will have to be created to effectively force petrol stations to comply with the publication of the data.

It’s a move that some petrol retailers might not be completely happy with, and for some, which may be located in favourable locations with little to no competition, the new Pumpwatch scheme could be negatively received.

Speaking about the scheme, the Petrol Retailers Association said:
“PRA members operate in a highly competitive market on razor-thin margins.

“The PRA will be responding to this consultation to ensure that the final fuel price transparency scheme is reliable and easy for both consumers and retailers to use.

“The PRA remains dedicated to fostering transparency and fair practices in the fuel industry, working collaboratively with relevant authorities to achieve a balanced and effective fuel price transparency initiative.”

The scheme could mean that, before long, we will be able to use our smartphones or computers to search within our local vicinity for the retailer with the lowest petrol price and then utilise online mapping to help direct us to the retailer should we need to. The government also hopes that tech companies will jump on the new scheme, and help develop and build new and innovative ways to help save motorists money.

The Energy Security Secretary, Claire Coutinho, said:

“Our work on competition and transparency is [proving effective]. Drivers are now paying the lowest average price at the pump for 2 years.

“We are forcing retailers to share live information on their prices within 30 minutes of any change in price, helping drivers to find the best deal at the pump. 

“This will put motorists back in the driving seat and bring much-needed competition back to the forecourts.”

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