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Petrol retailers warned against ripping off drivers

Rebecca Goodman
Written By:
Rebecca Goodman

The energy secretary Grant Shapps met with supermarket and petrol suppliers over claims they have been over-charging motorists for fuel.

In an editorial in The Sun newspaper, Shapps wrote that he met with bosses from Asda, Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons on Monday to discuss the pricing of petrol and diesel.

Fuel retailers have been accused by Shapps of “jacking up” their prices when costs rocketed following the Russian invasion of Ukraine , but “failed to pass on savings” as costs fell.

Earlier this month, a report from the Competitions and Markets Authority (CMA) revealed that an increase in margins on diesel across all fuel retailers cost drivers an extra 13p per litre during the first five months of this year.

The energy secretary said the Government will “shine a light on rip-off retailers to drive down prices” and make sure retailers are held to account by putting into law new powers to increase transparency.

Petrol retailers are now working with the CMA to launch a new scheme for drivers to compare the cost of petrol. The service will allow drivers to see the price of fuel near them in real time, so they can make a more informed decision about where to buy from.

However, it will be a voluntary scheme for retailers to sign up to.

‘Fair and transparent pump prices’

In a statement after the meeting on Monday, Grant Shapps said: “UK motorists deserve a fair and transparent price at the pumps and today I met with fuel retail bosses to call time on their inexcusable behaviour of over-charging drivers.

“Today’s commitment to a more transparent market is a step in the right direction – and I welcome their support for the Competition & Markets Authority’s voluntary scheme, which aims to drive down prices and boost competition so customers can find the best deals locally.

“But I’m warning those who fail to put words into actions and continue to rip off motorists – you will be held to account.”

However, some organisations, including the RAC, already provide a service for drivers to compare fuel costs.

It has an app called ‘My RAC fuel finder’ which claims to save drivers up to £172 a year as it allows them to search for the nearest cheapest fuel.

The RAC also said the Government needs to create a wholesale fuel price monitoring function which can fine retailers if they are found to be over-charging drivers.

‘Efforts may be in vain’

RAC fuel spokesperson, Simon Williams, said: “We fear the energy secretary’s efforts may be in vain, particularly as apps like myRAC already allow all drivers to compare prices free of charge. What’s badly needed is an official wholesale fuel price monitoring function which has the power to fine or take action against major retailers who don’t lower their forecourt prices when wholesale costs drop significantly.

“While the Competition and Markets Authority recommended an element of monitoring wholesale prices in its report in UK fuel retailing, the RAC fears without the threat of consequence in the form of fines, the biggest retailers are unlikely to lower their pump prices quickly enough when the wholesale market trends down. This aspect of the CMA’s report needs to be properly addressed when legislation is put before Parliament.”