UK fuel price row focuses on retailers

The Chancellor’s apparent promise this week that January’s 3p per litre fuel duty rise has been postponed has seen the focus increasingly narrow onto retailers.

Last month AA president Edmund King slammed retailers’ claim that they sold the cheapest fuel in Europe before tax.

The AA’s latest analysis published today says, ‘Last week, the average pre-tax price of petrol in Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Holland and Spain had fallen 9% in three weeks. In the UK, the average petrol price charged by retailers before tax had fallen 5.5% in the same period.’

It says the situation mirrors that in the Spring when prices in seven continental countries fell by 6.1% against 3.16% in the UK.

With France and Austria having already taken action on fuel prices, and Germany reportedly consider it, King strengthened calls for the Coalition to intervene: ‘The government momentarily had a grip of this monster when the previous Transport Secretary called in the industry to agree wholesale price transparency. This initiative stalled when the Office of Fair Trading called for information on road fuel pricing – to which the industry has responded by pumping up wholesale prices and then not passing on cost savings in a timely fashion,’ he says.

The Spectator also said this week that UK fuel duty has declined by 14% in real terms since 2000 (following protests when prices broached 80p per litre). According to the AA the UK has the eighth highest petrol price in Europe and the second highest diesel price after tax. The UK average price in October was 135.08p petrol and 141.89p diesel.

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