Government body gets more powers to tackle ‘rip off’ fuel prices

The government has granted the Competition and Markets Authority new powers to help it monitor petrol prices and improve competition in the market.

Shell petrol station

Getting a raw deal at the petrol pump might soon be a thing of the past, as the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has been granted more powers to help save motorists money, and maintain competition within the petrol sector. The new powers will apparently ‘shine a light’ on any petrol retailer found to be unfairly hiking up its prices simply because it feels like it. 

The move will see the CMA become the sole body responsible for monitoring fuel prices and reporting any sign of malpractice to the government. From the petrol retailers' side, all outlets will now also need to be transparent about how much they are charging customers on their forecourts versus their profits. If retailers fail to comply with the new transparency rules, the watchdog could issue fines of up to one per cent of its worldwide turnover or an ongoing fine of up to five per cent of the daily turnover.

The news follows a report, published on Visordown earlier this week, highlighting that despite global petrol and diesel prices dropping earlier this year, savings were not passed on to consumers and instead retailers pocketed the profit. The report also revealed that needless price hikes in 2022 helped petrol retailers unlock an extra £900,000 from UK motorists. 

Two major UK petrol retailers, Shell and Moto-way, failed to meet their information requests, although many others have obliged, including all four of the fuel-selling supermarkets. Each of those has already signed up to the CMA’s voluntary scheme to share daily price data – allowing news outlets and websites to create price comparison tools for customers to easily compare costs.

Speaking about the changes to the CMA’s powers, Energy Security Secretary Claire Coutinho said:

“At a time when many were struggling with increased living costs, we saw shocking behaviour from some fuel retailers who failed to pass on savings at the pump.

“Now we are cracking down on any petrol station bosses found to be unfairly hiking up their prices.

“That’s why we’re giving the CMA new powers to bring fairness back to the forecourts and make sure UK drivers get a competitive fuel price.”

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