Motorists still getting raw deal despite record petrol price fall, says RAC

Motorists are still getting a “raw deal” at the pumps despite a record petrol price drop last month, according to the RAC.

The average price of a litre of unleaded dipped below 170p (169.8p) at the end of August for the first time since May, with price cuts made by retailers in recent weeks resulting in the typical cost of filling a 55-litre petrol car falling from £100.16 at the start of the month to £93.39 at the end.

But the motoring organisation said it believed average forecourt petrol prices should be about 161p based on current wholesale costs.

Earlier this year fuel retailers faced accusations of profiteering as petrol prices hit new highs despite easing wholesale costs.

The RAC said the last time the delivered wholesale price of petrol was at its current level was in late April, when retailers were charging on average about 162p a litre.

Despite 12p coming off a litre of petrol last month, “pump prices remain a long way off what the RAC believes are fair given current wholesale fuel costs,” it added.

The current situation is a far cry from May 2020, when the average price of a litre of unleaded was below 105p.

Consumer organisations such as Which? have previously said a litre of petrol at supermarkets typically costs a few pence less than fuel at other forecourts.

However, the RAC said its analysis showed supermarkets were not necessarily the cheapest places for drivers to fill up, with independents in some locations “choosing to undercut them and charge a fairer price”. It added that supermarkets in some parts of the country appeared to be charging much less for the same fuel than in other areas, “much to the frustration of drivers”.

The motoring body has also claimed that the UK was “one of the least generous countries” when it came to supporting drivers.

The French government increased its discount on fuel to 30 cents from 15 cents on 1 September.

RAC spokesperson Rod Dennis said: “Twelve pence a litre is a lot to come off prices in a single month, so there’s no doubt things could be worse, but in reality drivers of petrol vehicles are still invariably getting a raw deal at the pumps.”

He added: “For whatever reason, major retailers are choosing not to pass on in full the reductions in the wholesale price of unleaded that they have been benefiting from for some considerable time now.”

Dennis said the organisation was urging the incoming prime minister to “heed our calls for more financial assistance for drivers, such as a deeper cut in fuel duty, and to look carefully at the much more generous packages of help being offered to those in other countries across Europe”.