Fuel prices are still a cause for concern, the competition watchdog warns

Drivers are still not getting a fair price for fuel at the pumps, the British competition watchdog has warned.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said prices have risen by as much as 13.9 pence per liter since the end of May, partly due to wholesale costs.

But recently those costs have fallen, but the retail price for petrol and diesel has not.

CMA boss Sarah Cardell said there was “reason for concern” that the competition is not working.

The findings are included in the watchdog’s first report on fuel prices following an inquiry into market competition, which recommended setting up a body to monitor what retailers charge drivers.

The CMA found that petrol prices had risen from 142.9 pence per liter at the end of May to 154 pence per liter at the end of October, an increase of 11.1 pence.

For diesel, prices rose from 147.9p per liter to 161.8p per liter in the same period, an increase of 13.9p.

Wholesale oil prices rose between June, July and August, the CMA said, largely due to global energy market pressures.

But it said: “Wholesale prices subsequently fell in September and October, while retail prices did not.

“While it is too early to draw definitive conclusions, this could indicate a lack of competitive response from fuel retailers if this trend continues.”

Higher food and fuel prices have been major drivers of the rising cost of living and official figures also indicate that the price drivers pay at the pump rose sharply in September.

The CMA examined the so-called ‘retail spread’ – the difference between what retailers pay to buy fuel and the price consumers have to pay – between May and last month.

It found there had been “significant increases” in the retail spread for petrol and diesel.

‘Cause for concern’

“More recent trends are raising concerns that competition in this market is still not working well to keep pump prices low,” said the CMA’s Ms Cardell.

However, she cautioned that the information in the report is based on voluntary information and that some major fuel retailers are missing.

Following its investigation into Britain’s fuel market, the watchdog is calling for the creation of a new regulatory body, which would have the power to demand price information from all retailers.

According to the RAC, the latest figures suggest that drivers are still being abused at the pumps.

Simon Williams of the RAC said: “It is very disappointing that the CMA has found that major fuel retailers are still taking much higher margins than in the past.

“We believe that the situation is currently worse than ever, as the wholesale market for fuels has fallen significantly, while prices at petrol stations are falling like a proverbial spring,” he said, adding that any new body responsible for monitoring prices should have the power to take action. action against major retailers.

“We fear that even then little will change,” he said.

Gordon Balmer, executive director of the Petrol Retailers’ Association, said he would always encourage drivers to shop around to make sure they were getting the best deal.

“With the volatility of the global fuel market, it is important that motorists are given the opportunity to shop for the cheapest prices available to them,” he said.

The industry body also said it would work closely with the competition watchdog in developing the new price monitoring system.

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