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In a statement sent to Autocar, the PRA called for an extension to the fuel duty freeze, claiming removing the measure would result in “potentially aggravating the financial strain on consumers already grappling with volatile global energy prices”.

“Fuel duty has long been a key concern, providing relief to motorists amidst escalating living costs. Temporary cuts and freezes have been welcome, offering relief amidst economic uncertainty,” said Balmer in the statement. 

He added that more support should be given to retailers, because of uncertainty caused by the standard business rate multiplier. 

“With an impending increase on the horizon, petrol retailers are experiencing increased financial pressures,” Balmer said. “The proposed rise in business rates poses will only add to the growing list of costs increases that petrol retailers have had to shoulder in recent years.”

What determines the price of fuel?

The price of petrol and diesel you buy at the pump is largely determined by the wholesale price of Brent crude oil. 

Fluctuations in the price of this, however, can take weeks to filter through to the forecourts.

The price of crude oil has gone up nearly $12 per barrel since the start of July to around $96 in October and now fallen to around $78.

The long-term cost of petrol

In July 2023, a major report from the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) found that drivers paid on average 6ppl more for fuel in 2022 as supermarkets took advantage of weakened competition and inflated pump prices.

CMA chief Sarah Cardell, who said supermarkets were usually the cheapest place to buy fuel and market anchors, said the rising of prices would have had “a greater impact on vulnerable people, particularly those in areas with less choice of fuel stations.”

The report found the rise was instigated by Asda  – which was also fined £60,000 for not co-operating fully with the CMA investigation – and Morrisons, the two cheapest fuel sellers, which last year each made the decision to target higher margins. 

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