Kwasi Kwarteng orders ‘urgent review’ into record fuel prices but ‘more action’ is needed

Petrol prices: RAC spokesperson reacts to criticism from The AA

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Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng has written to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) to investigate the record petrol and diesel prices. The Conservative MP for Spelthorne called for the CMA to conduct an “urgent review” on the fuel market to explore whether the retail fuel market has “adversely affected” consumer interests.

He said: “Drivers should be getting a fair deal for fuel across the UK.

“The British people are rightly frustrated that the £5 billion package does not always appear to have been passed through to forecourt prices.

“Healthy competition between forecourts is key to achieving this, with competition working to keep pressure on prices.”

He finished the letter, to CMA Chief Executive Dr Andrea Coscelli CBE, by asking for the initial report by July 7.

The watchdog has previously ordered Asda and Morrisons to sell off several forecourts citing competition fears.

Jack Cousens, head of roads policy for the AA, commented on the Business Secretary instructing the CMA to review fuel retailers.

He said: “We are pleased that the CMA has been tasked to report on the cost of fuel however, more urgent action is needed.

“To relieve pressure at the pumps we need an immediate 10p cut to fuel duty. 

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“That would help restore some balance ahead of the initial CMA findings due in early July.

“Longer term, the CMA should consider extending the pump price transparency available in Northern Ireland to the rest of the UK. 

“The Consumer Council’s Fuel Price Checker stimulates competition and has led to drivers there enjoying the lowest fuel prices in the UK.”

The Consumer Council’s tool shows that fuel prices in Northern Ireland are slightly cheaper than in the rest of the UK.

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The current average petrol price in Northern Ireland is 180.1p and diesel at 183.8p per litre.

In comparison, RAC Fuel Watch shows prices are “likely to rise” with unleaded selling at an average price of 183.16p per litre and diesel at 188.82p a litre.

The business Secretary had previously written to fuel retailers in May, calling on them to ensure drivers are getting a fair deal.

He said that it was “unacceptable” that British drivers were “widely different” prices at different locations within the same retail chain.

Mr Kwarteng added that he and the Chancellor wanted to re-emphasise the expectation that drivers are getting a fair deal across the country.

Drivers have experienced different prices across the UK, with one London forecourt charging 238.9p a litre for unleaded petrol and 249.9p for a litre of diesel.

This means filling an average 55-litre family car would cost £131.39 with petrol and a staggering £137.44.

Forecourts have also seen an increase in fuel thefts, with a 39 percent increase in non-payments since January.

According to Forecourt Eye, thefts had been rising month on month since Christmas, with a 19.5 percent spike in January and February.

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