UK

Petrol hits all-time record high of 142.94p a litre

The average UK petrol price reached a record high of 142.94p a litre on Sunday – an increase of almost 30p a year – while diesel is a little off its all-time maximum. 

Diesel reached 146.50p a litre on Sunday, still 1.43p short of its April 2012 all-time high of 147.93p, the AA announced today. 

Fellow motoring group the RAC called it a ‘truly dark day for drivers’, which coincides with the expansion of London’s Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) that will leave another 130,000 drivers facing £12.50 a day charge. 

It has said fuel price rises are mainly due to the rapidly increasing cost of oil, but says the introduction of E10 – a new petrol blend which contains less carbon – has also had an impact. 

The margin retailers are taking on every litre sold is also greater than it was prior to the start of the pandemic, putting further upward pressure on prices. 

Diesel reached 146.50p a litre on Sunday, still 1.43p short of its April 2012 all-time high of 147.93p, the AA announced today. This graph shows price changes from 2008 to now 

A BP petrol station at Rugby services just off the M6 at Junction 1. It is one of the most expensive in the UK

A BP petrol station at Rugby services just off the M6 at Junction 1. It is one of the most expensive in the UK 

Ironically, at the end of last week, wholesale diesel to be delivered to forecourts was still around 6p a litre more expensive than petrol – as it had a fortnight earlier.

Record petrol prices also arrived the weekend before 300,000 London residents within the newly extended Ultra Low Emission Zone, and tens of thousands more from outside, face a daily £12.50 charge for driving older cars that don’t comply with emissions restrictions.

The rebound from pandemic lows of 106.48p in mid May 2020 has seen petrol climb rapidly, with short lulls in November 2020 at around 114p a litre and this August at 135p a litre.

This compares with a two-and-a-half-year rebound following the financial crash in 2008-9. That went in two hops, from 86p a litre in January 2009 to 121.5p in May 2010 and then above 137p in May 2011. Overall, that was a rise of 51p a litre.

However, the 2009 to 2011 period saw fuel duty rise from 52.35 pence per litre to 58.95 pence per litre in January 2011, before falling back to 57.95 pence per litre the following March. VAT also rose to 20%.

Small businesses: Fuel price rises are ‘pushing us to the brink’  

Small business owners today said the price rises were pushing their firms ‘to the brink’. 

Drew Robinson, founder at JToB Apothecary, said: ‘As a small business with tight margins, every cost hike wherever it is has a significant impact. 

‘As I sell at farmers markets, which I have to drive to, I’m seeing my income dwindle away and I’m powerless to do anything about it. These petrol price increases are taking my business to the brink.’ 

Dominik Lipnicki, Director at Your Mortgage Decisions Ltd, said: ‘This is yet another kick in the teeth for people already struggling with a hike in energy prices and inflation as a whole. 

‘The fear for homeowners now is that this puts further pressure on the Bank of England to increase the base rate.’

Meanwhile, Jez Lamb, founder at [email protected], said rising cost of fuel would leave business owners having to decide whether to pass cost increases onto customers. 

‘Another day, another challenge for the average small business owner, especially those whose jobs involve transport, delivery and drop-offs,’ he said. 

‘This is yet more price hikes that we have to swallow among all our other rising costs. 

‘We’ll undoubtedly see couriers increase their prices under the banner of a ”fuel surcharge”, but do we pass this onto our own customers who are already being hit with prices rising elsewhere? It’s yet another headache and challenge to overcome.’ 

RAC fuel spokesman Simon Williams said: ‘This is truly a dark day for drivers, and one which we hoped we wouldn’t see again after the high prices of April 2012. This will hurt many household budgets and no doubt have knock-on implications for the wider economy.

‘The big question now is, ‘where will it stop and what price will petrol hit?’

‘If oil gets to 100 dollars a barrel, we could very easily see the average price climb to 150p a litre.

‘Even though many people aren’t driving as much as they have in the past due to the pandemic, drivers tell us they are just as reliant on their cars, and many simply don’t have a choice but to drive. Those on lower incomes who have to drive to work will seriously struggle to find the extra money for the petrol they so badly need.

‘We urge the Government to help ease the burden at the pumps by temporarily reducing VAT, and for the biggest retailers to bring the amount they make on every litre of petrol back down to the level it was prior to the pandemic.’ 

Luke Bosdet, the AA’s fuel price spokesman, said: ‘Whether it’s down to oil producers, market speculators, Treasury taxes or struggling retailers trying to balance their margins, record pump prices must be saying to drivers with the means that it is time to make the switch to electric.

‘As for poorer motorists, many of them now facing daily charges to drive in cities, there is no escape. It’s a return to cutting back on other consumer spending, perhaps even heating or food, to keep the car that gets them to work on the road.’ 

Small business owners today said the price rises were pushing their firms ‘to the brink’. 

Drew Robinson, founder at JToB Apothecary, said: ‘As a small business with tight margins, every cost hike wherever it is has a significant impact. 

‘As I sell at farmers markets, which I have to drive to, I’m seeing my income dwindle away and I’m powerless to do anything about it. These petrol price increases are taking my business to the brink.’ 

Dominik Lipnicki, Director at Your Mortgage Decisions Ltd, said: ‘This is yet another kick in the teeth for people already struggling with a hike in energy prices and inflation as a whole. 

‘The fear for homeowners now is that this puts further pressure on the Bank of England to increase the base rate.’

Meanwhile, Jez Lamb, founder at [email protected], said rising cost of fuel would leave business owners having to decide whether to pass cost increases onto customers. 

‘Another day, another challenge for the average small business owner, especially those whose jobs involve transport, delivery and drop-offs,’ he said. 

‘This is yet more price hikes that we have to swallow among all our other rising costs. 

‘We’ll undoubtedly see couriers increase their prices under the banner of a ”fuel surcharge”, but do we pass this onto our own customers who are already being hit with prices rising elsewhere? It’s yet another headache and challenge to overcome.’


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