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Diesel drivers continue to get ‘miserable deal’ at pumps

Paloma Kubiak
Written By:
Paloma Kubiak
Posted:
Updated:
21/03/2023

Fuel retailers are accused of failing to pass on falling wholesale prices, with millions of diesel drivers in particular “seeing no benefit” when filling up their tanks.

Diesel drivers continue to suffer from “inflated prices”, despite plummeting lower wholesale costs and the Government’s fuel duty freeze confirmed in last week’s Spring Budget.

Motoring group the RAC said crude oil and wholesale diesel costs have reached their lowest points in 15 months but retailers are “still refusing to cut pump prices in any meaningful way”.

In the last four weeks, wholesale prices have fallen by 10p, but this has translated to just a 3p cut at the pumps for the 12 million diesel car drivers on the roads.

At the same time, the gap between the wholesale cost of petrol and diesel has been narrowing over recent weeks, standing at just over 1.5p.

But the RAC said diesel drivers are shelling out an extra 19p a litre each time they fill up.

It said retailers are pocketing an average margin of nearly 19p for every litre of diesel sold – double the amount taken in 2021 and 2022.

‘Fuel duty cut gobbled up by retailer margins’

The motoring group added that the 5p fuel duty cut from March 2022 – now extended – “continue to be more than gobbled up by retailers taking so much more margin than they normally do”.

Further, it said there is “greatest potential for a sizeable cut to diesel” as a cost of a barrel of oil now stands at its lowest level since December 2021, there is also scope for large forecourt operators to reduces petrol prices by a few pence too.

RAC fuel spokesman, Simon Williams, said: “The pricing tactics of major retailers mean that diesel drivers in particular – including those who work for millions of small businesses – are still getting a really miserable deal at the pumps, and effectively aren’t seeing any benefit from the 5p duty cut whatsoever – as retailers are taking nearly four times this amount in margin with every litre they sell. So, in a peculiar way, it feels like it’s retailers who are benefiting from the lower duty cut right now, and not motorists.

“Drivers and small businesses have every right to feel aggrieved. We’re in a ridiculous situation where it would take just one major retailer to do the right thing and cut diesel prices to more sensible levels for a ripple effect to take place across the country’s forecourts, benefiting hard-up households everywhere.

“Instead, no retailer wants to blink first, with the result being millions of drivers forking out far more when they fill up than they should.”

Williams added: “Two weeks ago, we pointed to how easy it was for retailers to slash diesel prices given how low the wholesale price had fallen. It’s a sad reality that prices have merely trickled down by only around a penny since then. We now hope at least one major retailer finally decides the time is right to cut the prices to more reasonable levels, which will surely mean others follow. If this doesn’t happen, the best drivers can do is shop around and try to find a forecourt that’s charging less than the RAC Fuel Watch average.”