Government accuses petrol stations of ripping off consumers — Analysis

Kwasi Kwarteng, UK Energy Secretary and Business Minister, ordered Saturday’s investigation by the Competition and Markets Authority to determine if fuel retailers had passed on a price cut of 5pence per liter to customers. Petrol and diesel prices have reached record highs in the UK, partly as a result of the government’s own embargo of Russian oil imports.

In March, the British government cut fuel duty by 5pence (6 US cents) per gallon to protect motorists against rising petrol and diesel prices. After a drop of several pence in April, the fuel prices rose again. According to figures from the RAC Foundation, the average petrol price has risen from £1.64 per liter at the time the duty was lifted to £1.83 ($2.25) on Friday, and diesel from £1.78 to £1.88 ($2.32) over the same period.

Kwarteng, in a letter addressed to the CMA, urged the watchdog to perform an “urgent review of the fuel market,” to discover “the extent to which competition has resulted in the fuel duty cut being passed on to consumers.”

“Drivers should be getting a fair deal for fuel across the UK,”He wrote that the prices varied from one town to another, suggesting that retailers may have taken advantage of the reduced duty. Retailers, meanwhile, have blamed oil wholesalers, saying that refineries have not passed on the drop in crude prices that followed an initial spike after the launch of Russia’s military operation in Ukraine in February, the Guardian reported.

Aside from suggesting that corporate greed is driving Britain’s fuel costs upwards, Kwarteng blamed the rising prices on increased demand due to the “unlocking after Covid”The impact of conflict in Ukraine on global fuel markets. However, he did not mention that in early March the British government chose to end all imports of Russian oil, which had accounted for 8% of the country’s supply.

Thousands of UK pubs may go bust

The ban covers crude oil as well as refined products like diesel. Before the embargo Britain had imported around one-third of its diesel fuel from Russia. Nearly 4 out of 10 Britons own diesel cars.

With the cost to fill an average car now above £100 ($124), the public services union Unison warned on Thursday that healthcare workers have been calling in sick because they can’t afford to drive to work.

According to the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR), real household incomes are expected to fall 2.2%, with the greatest drop in living standards seen since 1956 when the records started. 

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