Drivers face postcode lottery on fuel prices

New AA research finds some motorists being charged up to £2 a tank more for fuel than those in neighbouring towns.

Petrol prices, petrol pump and hand

The average price of petrol in the UK hit a year high of 140.03p a litre on 3 March.

The motoring association attributed the disparity to a lack of transparency over a series of recent price spikes, allowing retailers to choose whether or not to pass on savings.

Further research by The Telegraph found unleaded petrol in Newbury, Berkshire to be 136.9p a litre compared with 134.7p in neighbouring Reading. In Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, the price was 134.7p compared to 138.9p in nearby New Ollerton.

Drivers left ‘high and dry’

AA president Edmund King said: “Unlike the US, drivers in the UK and Europe have been left high and dry by the lack of fuel price transparency. This has denied them the ability to spot short-term pump price spikes and prepare their budgets and planning for the hit.

“It has also allowed retailers to decide when and where savings for this essential part of family spending are passed on.”

The AA said the fall in average petrol prices in the UK appeared to have stalled.

The average price hit a year high of 140.03p a litre on March 3, falling to 137.3p on April 1. Average diesel prices dropped from a high of 146.46p a litre on March 4 to 143.57p on Easter Monday.

Families struggling with rising living costs

Last month, uSwitch research revealed that petrol price hikes mean that a two-car family can now expect to spend £331 a month filling up their cars, up 33% from £250 a month in 2008.

Mr King added: “Fuel pricing in the UK, US, and Europe over the past 12 months has been characterised by a series of severe spikes, surging petrol prices up and down by the equivalent of 10p a litre. This has had a severe impact on consumer demand.

“Although previous price spikes since the 1970s have eventually been offset by improved wages, the extent and severity of price swings since 2008 are likely to have a lasting impact, such as more smaller cars, changed shopping patterns and car fuel budget sensitivity.”

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