We’re all still being ripped off at the pumps, fuel price analysis shows

The RAC’s latest fuel price analysis indicates that the UK’s motorists are still being forced to pay higher petrol prices than they should

Asda Petrol Station

New analysis from the RAC has indicated that fuel prices in the UK are continuing to cost motorists more than they should.

Ever since the Russian invasion of Ukraine began in February last year, oil prices have been in flux, which have in turn led to unstable fuel prices at the pump. 2022 was described as the “most volatile” year on record for fuel prices by a UK competition watchdog.

Last year, fuel duty was subject to a 5p per litre cut by the then-chancellor Rishi Sunak in an attempt to stop fuel prices spiralling too far out of control. That 5p cut should still be being felt by customers, but the RAC’s fuel price analysis for November 2023 found that retailers are averaging a margin of 17p per litre on petrol and 13p per litre on diesel - these compare to long-term averages of 7p and 8p, respectively. 

The UK average price for petrol per litre was 146.95p in November, down by 7.5p over October; while diesel fell by 7p to 154.40p. Despite the falls compared to October, though, the RAC says that these average prices should be much lower at 137p and 150p per litre, respectively.

These findings from the RAC come in the same month that the wholesale price for petrol dropped by 9p per litre, and for diesel by 7p per litre, as a result of oil averaging a price of $84 per barrel and a decent month for the pound, which rose from $1.21 at the start of November to $1.26 by the end.

RAC fuel spokesman Simon Williams said: “While the price of fuel fell in November, the truth is there is no reason whatsoever for drivers to be jubilant as the data clearly shows they are continuing to get a rough deal at the pumps, unless they live in Northern Ireland. 

“Wholesale fuel costs have been falling for months, so they should be paying around 137p for petrol, instead of a whopping 147p. Diesel is also overpriced at 154.40p when it should be on sale for under 150p.

“This is extremely worrying as the biggest retailers don’t seem to have heeded the warnings levelled at them by Energy Secretary Claire Coutinho at the end of October saying she wouldn’t hesitate to call out those that rip off the public.

Mr. Williams said that the action of the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero was “far too little, far too late,” and that “unfortunately, for the Government and drivers, [the RAC’s analysis] shows the 5p-a-litre duty cut is not getting to drivers at all, and prices aren’t falling nearly fast enough yet again.”

The Petrol Retailers’ Association (PRA) has responded to the RAC’s release calling out what it sees as unfair pricing, with PRA Executive Director Gordon Balmer saying that “our retailers remain steadfast in their commitment to ensuring customers receive the best deals possible.”

Mr. Balmer said: “We have been working closely with both the Competition and Markets Authority and the Department of Energy Security and Net Zero as they develop their fuel price transparency scheme. Amidst a cost-of-living crisis, the PRA is doing all it can to ensure that motorists have access to the best information possible.

“It is disappointing that as we work constructively with the relevant Government departments to find a solution, we are forced to constantly correct the record.

"I have extended yet another invitation to the RAC to offer a comprehensive understanding of the cost pressures our members face. 

"In the face of ongoing market volatility, our retailers remain steadfast in their commitment to ensuring customers receive the best deals possible. We urge the RAC to accept the invitation to engage in collaborative discussions, fostering an environment of cooperation and shared insights to benefit both the industry and consumers."

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