Petrol and diesel prices near record highs – three ‘solutions’ to lower costs
Petrol prices: RAC spokesperson reacts to criticism from The AA
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Currently, drivers are shelling out an average price of 191.27p per litre for unleaded petrol and 198.84p for diesel, with no clear end in sight to the enormous costs. Jack Cousens, head of roads policy at the AA, explained how there were three key factors which could help solve the UK’s pump price woes.
A road fuel regulator
A regulator would help as an independent arbiter of fair prices for petrol and diesel up and down the country.
Mr Cousens said it was “hugely ironic” that Ofgem (Office of Gas and Electricity Markets) has already drafted policies for protecting electric vehicle owners.
He did, however, acknowledge that the time it would take to create a road fuel regulator would not be quick enough and, given the current cost of living crisis, a quicker solution is needed.
Howard Cox, founder of FairFuelUK, has been a vocal supporter of the creation of a fuel price watchdog, as he has called for PumpWatch to be created.
Nine out of 10 supporters of FairFuelUK’s 1.7 million supporters said they would want to see an impartial body created.
The consumer watchdog would work in a similar way to Ofgem, Ofcom and Ofwat, to protect drivers every time they fill up.
Mr Cox said: “PumpWatch is crucial to the nation’s positive economic growth, jobs, business investment, logistics, consumer spending and social mobility.”
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Fuel duty cuts
The AA has questioned why public money that could support the NHS, councils and other cash-stricken areas should be diverted when the equivalent of another 5p cut in fuel duty, and more, have already been slashed from costs heading to the pump.
It added: “The fuel trade can’t expect to use tax revenue to prop up its profits.”
The AA has called for the revival of George Osborne’s Fuel Price Stabiliser.
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Essentially, that lowers fuel duty when oil and commodity fuel prices surge and raises it when they slump.
That too would be a longer-term project but essential with current global economic instability.
Germany cut its fuel duty by 25p a litre, while drivers in the Netherlands, Ireland and Spain all saw a 15p reduction.
French drivers were given a 14p cut, with many calling for the UK to follow suit and implement a larger cut.
The AA said that transparency is needed as this could be a faster solution than the other two methods.
It points to Nothern Ireland’s Fuel Price Checker which is proven, tested, popular and “oven-ready” for expansion across the UK at a relatively low cost.
The Checker provides the sort of pump price transparency that not only compares the average price of petrol and diesel between towns but also highlights the potential lowest cost of each fuel within a town or city.
For those commuting or driving between towns, the Checker indicates the cheapest place for refuelling.
That allows consumers to counter the pump-price postcode lottery currently plaguing many communities.
Secondly, within the communities themselves, drivers will be able to gauge the extent to which their local fuel retailer is being competitive.
They may then be drawn to the cheapest forecourt or others offering similar prices, or know what they are currently paying is a good price.
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