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UK has the most expensive diesel in Europe for seven weeks in a row

UK has the most expensive diesel in Europe for seven weeks in a row
Paloma Kubiak
Written By:
Paloma Kubiak

A litre of diesel in the UK is currently 8p more expensive than Finland – the next most pricey country – while it’s 20p more expensive than the EU average, a motoring group reveals.

Drivers are continuing to get an “extremely poor deal” every time they fill up their tanks, with prices 10p higher than they should be compared to wholesale costs, which have been falling.

A litre of petrol averages 146.28p across the UK, which is 5p more expensive than it should be, as drivers in Northern Ireland are paying just 141.1p.

However, according to the RAC, diesel drivers are paying 10p more than their counterparts in Northern Ireland. Here, drivers are paying an average of 151.5p, versus the Northern Ireland average of 141.9p.

This “persistent overcharging” at the pumps means drivers of a typical 55-litre family car are having to fork out an extra £3 for petrol and £5.50 for diesel every time they fill up. A full tank of petrol based on the UK average currently costs £80.50, while the diesel equivalent is £83.30.

The RAC said wholesale costs have been falling since the end of April, adding that the “distraction” of the general election means there’s “little political focus on their unreasonably high margins”.

It noted that average retailer margins are currently 14p on petrol and 16p on diesel, which appears “excessively high” considering the long-term margins for both fuels are 8p per litre.

Meanwhile, over in Northern Ireland, the average margin is 10p for petrol and 9p for diesel.

Turning to the ‘big four’ supermarkets that dominate UK fuel sales, margins average 12p and 14p respectively for the two types of fuel, much higher than the 3p and 8p before the Covid pandemic.

According to RAC Fuel Watch data, wholesale petrol currently averages 108p per litre, so even with the more generous margin of 10p, drivers would pay an average price of 141p. This is the same as in Northern Ireland, and 5p less than the current average of 146.28p.

‘Drivers are paying the price’

Simon Williams, RAC’s head of policy, said: “While there has been much focus on fuel since the Competition and Markets Authority [CMA] concluded the biggest retailers had overcharged drivers by £900m in 2022, margins are once again staying persistently high – and drivers are paying the price.

“Our data clearly shows that pump prices haven’t fallen in line with the reduction in wholesale prices, so drivers across the UK – with the exception of those in Northern Ireland, where fairer prices are charged – are once again losing several pounds every time they fill up.”

Williams added that “there’s no good reason for retailers in Great Britain not cutting their prices at the pumps far further”.

He said: “We can only think they’re hoping no one will notice due to the distraction of the general election.

“We hope that the CMA is aware of what is going on and will use this to bring retailers into line as soon as it’s able to – something [that] is so desperately needed given drivers in Northern Ireland are paying so much less for the very same fuel.

“Whichever party, or parties, form the next Government, it’s essential they ensure the new Pumpwatch scheme, which became law just before the election, is set up as quickly as possible. This will compel every retailer to submit their prices to the official body within half an hour of changing them so they can be used in apps, such as the myRAC fuel finder, to help drivers find the cheapest fuel near them. It is hoped this will spark greater competition among retailers.”