Fuel prices: drivers have been short-changed at the supermarket pump as cost-of-living batters budgets
With the news that supermarket fuel retailers have been charging customers above the odds, change can't come quick enough at the pump
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This year has been challenging for most with the prices of everyday essentials constantly surging, from food to energy bills.
As the grip on our wallets and purses continues to tighten, Tuesday’s (4 July) Competitions and Market Authority (CMA) announcement that supermarkets have been gouging drivers for fuel amid a lack of competition is particularly infuriating.
Supermarket petrol stations, including ASDA, Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons, have been found to have raised their fuel margins by 6p per litre between 2019 and 2022. This has resulted in drivers across the country paying a combined total of almost £1 billion extra to fuel their vehicles.
I’m sure I’m not alone in being one of the millions of drivers who will be left feeling short-changed by the revelation.
I consider myself lucky that I don’t need to rely on a car for day-to-day life. But for those who do rely on their car - the parents, the workers, the carers - this news will be an even more bitter pill to swallow.
As the price of food on the supermarket shelf jumped up over the past year, we were told it was for a number of factors - a rising inflation rate, the war in Ukraine causing a disruption to the supply chain and the soaring energy costs inflicted when manufacturing said foodstuff. Fuel prices also rose sharply, with customers understanding that the war in Ukraine also had an impact on availability of petrol and therefore the price.
However, these sympathies seem to have been misplaced. When drivers have been heading to the pumps, it turns out that they have been paying above the odds, more than they blatantly need to, all because the supermarkets have no incentive to offer customers a good deal.
We were promised that fuel prices would come down. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Chancellor Jeremy Hunt targeted fuel duty to attempt to alleviate the cost at the pump, freezing the rate during the last budget. But little has changed.
Instead, prices have remained stubbornly high, with the government even criticising the supermarkets for not passing on the lower wholesale price of fuel to customers. The UK government is now set to introduce a new law which will force fuel retailers to publish up-to-date prices to encourage competition.
Hunt said: “It isn’t fair that businesses are refusing to pass on lower prices to protect their profits while working people struggle with balancing their budgets.
“Consumers need to be treated fairly, and so we’re empowering drivers to find the best prices possible for their fuel by taking swift steps following the CMA’s recommendations.”
At a time when the pounds and pennies are being stretched beyond their means for the average worker in the UK and public transport such as trains is becoming increasingly unaffordable to use, supermarkets and their shareholders are enjoying multi-million profits. We can only hope that the new law around pricing transparency will hold these fuel suppliers to account and households will begin to see a much-needed drop in their fuel bills.