Fuel retailers will be forced into publishing up-to-date price information under new laws, following the findings of a major report.
A year-long investigation into the UK road fuel market by the Competitions and Markets Authority concluded that there was no evidence of price fixing by the major fuel retailers. However, the report said that drivers were paying more for petrol and diesel because of the weaker competition that existed in the fuel market since the Covid pandemic.
The UK government has responded by making fuel retailers release their pump prices to third parties, so consumers know exactly how much each is charging and where to find the best deal. This will lead the way to the creation of ‘price comparison’ style apps and websites for fuel.
Prices had risen since 2019 because the traditional leading players in the fuel retail market had decided to compete less on price, with the result that margins had got larger. Average annual supermarket fuel margins went up by 6p per litre in the three years from 2019 to 2022. Diesel drivers paid an extra 13p per litre for their fuel between January and May of this year.
“Some fuel retailers have been using motorists as cash cows”, said Energy Security Secretary Grant Shapps. “They jacked up their prices when fuel costs rocketed but failed to pass on savings now costs have fallen. “It cannot be right that at a time when families are struggling with rising living costs, retailers are prioritising their bottom line, putting upwards pressure on inflation and pocketing hundreds of millions of pounds at the expense of hardworking people.”
It is hoped that the disclosure of fuel prices and the open data scheme will encourage more price competition amongst retailers, as has been seen with similar schemes in Germany and Australia.