December Fuel Price Update

A bleak mid winter gets bleaker

A bleak mid winter gets bleaker

17 December 2010

Petrol prices that reached a record high last week continue to rise further, now averaging 122.14p a litre, the latest AA Fuel Price Report reveals.

For the first time in 21 months, Scotland has become one of the most expensive regions in the UK for diesel – following last week's snow chaos.

The UK average pump price for petrol has risen 3.06p a litre between mid November and mid December, a quarter of that over one weekend. Across the country, diesel now averages 126.19p a litre, up 3.12p on a month ago.

Milking motorists through higher fuel prices is over, as many are running dry and biting back Compared to this time last year, the cost of filling a typical 50-litre petrol tank has risen from £54.26, when petrol cost 108.51p a litre, to £61.07 now. The cost of filling up with diesel has risen from £54.93, when a litre cost 109.85, to £63.10 now. For a two-car family, the monthly cost of petrol has risen from £230.41 a year ago to £259.35.

UK petrol car owners are spending £8 million a day more on fuel than a year ago – money that is lost to other consumer spending.

On current prices, the 2.5% increase in VAT and the 0.76p-a-litre increase in fuel duty due at the start of the New Year will add around 3.5p to the pump price of petrol and diesel.

This week, oil prices continued to rise above $90 a barrel with market speculation hoping for an increase to $100. Wholesale petrol has risen 6% over the past month.

Regionally, London and the South East have retaken the joint top spot for most expensive petrol in the UK at 122.7p a litre while Scotland pegs level with Wales for the dearest diesel at 126.7p a litre.

Petrol prices in northern Scotland are nudging or exceeding 130p a litre, with 129.9 in Ullapool and 133.9 in Stornoway, while diesel has reached around 135p a litre, with 134.9 in Ullapool and 135.9p in Stornoway. Petrol on England’s motorways varies from 129.9p a litre to 121.9p and, for diesel, from 132.9 to 124.9.


"This is a bleak mid winter for millions of drivers. Milking motorists through higher fuel prices is over, as many are running dry and biting back – not because they want to, but because they have no option. Two thirds of drivers are cutting back on journeys, cutting back on other expenditure, or cutting back on both," says Edmund King, the AA's president.

"As a result, we are seeing ever more desperate attempts to claw money from drivers, such as the £1 million extra one London council wants to snatch from residents' parking permits, despite a Commons' committee warning against turning a charge into a tax*.

King adds:"It is the lower-income drivers who suffer first and hardest, and that is why the Government should not add further to their misery by increasing both duty and VAT on fuel in the New Year."

"Some argue that higher fuel costs help reduce CO2, but that is no comfort to low-paid workers or youngsters who have to drive to get work, drive to evening shifts or those in rural areas where public transport is inadequate. Pensioners on fixed incomes who have to drive to regular hospital appointments or volunteer drivers who give their time and are increasingly paying for the privilege are finding it difficult to cope."

The AA is calling on the Government to abandon January's fuel duty increase and to scrap the inflation + 1p a litre formula for fuel duty increases whilst global prices are so high.

View the full AA Fuel Price Report »

UK pump price data provided by Experian Catalist

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* "Isn't this just a money making scheme? No – this is about influencing behaviour, although the proposals would generate around an extra £1m per year. This would be spent on transport related activity such as improving our roads, encouraging walking and cycling and improving road safety." Brent Council website.


16 December 2010