Drivers are being overcharged to fill up their car with petrol by £5 as forecourt operators fail to pass on fuel duty savings and cheaper wholesale costs, the RAC has said.
Wholesale petrol and diesel prices have fallen this year, but petrol station operators have generated chunkier profit margins by reducing retail prices at a slower pace, it said.
Fuel duty was slashed by 5p per litre in March last year as motorists struggled with the rising cost of petrol and diesel, triggered by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
However, the RAC said retailers are refusing to pass these savings on, with drivers currently paying around £5 more than they should be to fill up an average 55-litre family car at £80.62, with diesel car owners overpaying by £2.50 at £84.92.
The RAC believes petrol should be sold for an average of 137p and diesel for 150p, based on retailers taking a fairer margin.
In October, Claire Coutinho, the Energy Secretary, wrote to industry executives warning them that she would “not hesitate to call out retailers who rip off the public” if they fail to pass on savings from cheaper global pricing.
Simon Williams of the RAC said: “The biggest retailers don’t seem to have heeded the warnings levelled at them.
“While the Energy Secretary’s action may have encouraged retailers to begin reducing their prices, it’s undoubtedly a case of far too little, far too late.”
Oil prices hit a recent high following Russia’s war on Ukraine, topping $110 last summer before moderating.
They then shot up again in the wake of Hamas’s attack on Israel, with Brent Crude rising to $93 last month.
But prices have since settled to about $78 a barrel, closer to the prices seen this summer.
The RAC said it has contacted Ms Coutinho’s department to show its findings.
Parliament’s Treasury Committee found in July that the fuel duty cut was being effectively retained by petrol stations in the shape of higher profits.
Last month, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) warned that the recent drop in oil prices and wholesale petrol and diesel prices have not been passed on to consumers.
It said a body should be created to monitor margins and prices to make sure savings ended up in drivers’ pockets.
Higher fuel costs are a big driver of food inflation, which has in turn been a big driver of the cost of living crisis squeezing families.
Mr Williams said: “If a price monitoring body had already been set up by now – as recommended by the CMA and accepted by the Government – then this might have been prevented and people might finally be getting a fairer deal at the pumps.”
“We reiterate our call to the biggest retailers to significantly cut their prices to mirror what’s happening with greatly reduced wholesale costs.”