Petrol firms are accused of ripping off motorists and cashing in on the great Christmas getaway

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Petrol firms are accused of ripping off motorists and cashing in on the great Christmas getaway as petrol pump prices hit 146.27p a litre

  • For the first time petrol forecourt margins have surged past a record 20p a litre
  • Some services are charging £10 over the national average to fill a 55-litre tank
  • The AA accused providers of keeping prices high amid the holiday rush 


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Petrol firms have been accused of ripping off motorists by cashing in on the great Christmas getaway.

For the first time petrol forecourt margins have surged past a record 20p a litre – or £11 on every tank of fuel.

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And some motorway services are charging £10 over the national average to fill the typical 55-litre tank in a family car.

Prices are believed to be staying high across the board because supermarkets are not engaging in their traditional price-cutting war. 

But the AA accused petrol providers of keeping prices artificially high to cash in on the holiday rush – with around nine in ten drivers expected to take to the roads over the next week.

Petrol firms have been accused of ripping off motorists by cashing in on the great Christmas getaway. For the first time petrol forecourt margins have surged past a record 20p a litre – or £11 on every tank of fuel.

Petrol firms have been accused of ripping off motorists by cashing in on the great Christmas getaway. For the first time petrol forecourt margins have surged past a record 20p a litre – or £11 on every tank of fuel.

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A report by the motoring group said that wholesale fuel prices plummeted by more than 10p a litre two weeks ago as the global price of oil fell. 

But far from retailers and suppliers passing this saving on, average petrol pump prices fell just 1.5p a litre.

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This week average petrol pump prices hit 146.27p a litre, with diesel at 149.56p.

This compares with all-time highs of 147.72p and 151.10p respectively last month.

Tory MP Robert Halfon said firms were ‘feeding the cost of living crisis’. 

But the Petrol Retailers Association, which represents independent forecourts, said profit margins have had to remain higher to re-coup losses made during the pandemic.

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Howard Cox, founder of the FairFuelUK campaign group, called for a price cap and watchdog to regulate the industry.

He said: ‘Even allowing for market increases in margins and distribution costs, the world’s highest taxed drivers are paying up to 10 pence more than is honest.

‘Everyone knows this is a perennial problem, except the Treasury. The flood of extra VAT to the Government due to dishonest fuel pricing is in the billions. It’s time for an independent regulator to protect drivers.’

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The AA analysis also found prices are being kept artificially high due to less competition between supermarkets.

Traditionally, their forecourts have been the cheapest and a price war usually seen between them at the pumps, designed to draw more shoppers to their stores, has cooled off.

It means that, whereas average petrol prices at supermarkets were 6.3p a litre below the UK average in May last year, they are now just 2.2p a litre lower. This dropped to as low as 1.9p last month.

It means the typical saving from filling up with petrol at a supermarket is as much as around three times lower.

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The takeover by EG Group, run by the billionaire Issa brothers and a secretive private equity firm, of Asda has been partly blamed for the reduced competition.

The AA’s fuel supremo, Luke Bosdet, said: ‘When the supermarkets ceased to compete, their rivals enjoyed an early Christmas. ‘There were two clear price-cutters in the spring of 2020, Asda and Morrison, and neither have seized the initiative.’

The AA’s fuel supremo, Luke Bosdet, said: ‘When the supermarkets ceased to compete, their rivals enjoyed an early Christmas. ‘There were two clear price-cutters in the spring of 2020, Asda and Morrison, and neither have seized the initiative.’

The AA’s fuel supremo, Luke Bosdet, said: ‘When the supermarkets ceased to compete, their rivals enjoyed an early Christmas.

‘There were two clear price-cutters in the spring of 2020, Asda and Morrison, and neither have seized the initiative.’ 

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RAC fuel spokesman Simon Williams said: ‘It has become blatantly apparent in the last six weeks that any competition that existed in supermarket fuel retailing has all but disappeared.

‘Since mid-November when the wholesale price of petrol began to fall, the big four supermarkets, who dominate fuel sales, have upped their margins to 11p a litre from around 4p prior to that.

‘We fear that a change of pricing behaviour from Asda is to blame. Previously Asda would always cut its fuel prices when wholesale costs dropped to bring customers to its stores and other retailers would then follow suit. Since its change of ownership however, this hasn’t happened.’

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