New Government proposals could result in motorists being able to find the cheapest fuel
The Chancellor Jeremy Hunt and Business Secretary Jeremy Hunt have asked Government officials to look into the feasibility of creating a central, online platform where drivers can find the best places to fill up their vehicles.
Should this become a reality, then drivers will be able to access the cost of fuel at every petrol station in the UK before they set off on their next journey.
Following a year of record high fuel prices, and a raft of proposals – this platform would allow the public to save money and avoid the fuel companies overcharging their customers.
Similar schemes are already in place in Northern Ireland, which has been credited with helping reduce the average price of filling a vehicle. Another successful version of this is also currently available to drivers in Germany.
Despite the proposals grabbing headlines within the motoring industry, these proposals will not be a part of his Spring Budget next month. However, work will continue in the months ahead before any official announcement is released.
However, the Chancellor has asked the Treasury to collate the information and data required to create a system where petrol stations would be required to submit price information to a central body.
RAC data has shown that the similar system in place in Northern Ireland has resulted in a current average price of 145p a litre for petrol. The current UK average is almost 149p a litre.
These proposals follow the news in December last year, where 29 MPs called for the creation of a fuel watchdog in the UK.
This was due to prices for customers falling just 3% in the two months leading up to their suggestion to Parliament – and the wholesale cost of petrol fell by more than 25%.
This has been a worrying trend for the industry in the last few months.
RAC fuel spokesperson Simon Williams said: “The Competition and Markets Authority is already investigating the way fuel retailing operates, so we hope its eventual recommendations to the Government result in better value at the pumps for drivers.
“An online fuel price checker that resembles those available to drivers in Germany where prices are displayed for individual forecourts in real-time could be helpful, but may not, on its own, lead to fairer prices.
“Certainly, we don’t think any UK-wide system should mimic what already exists in Northern Ireland where fuel prices are only updated once a week and there’s no indication of which forecourts are cheapest.
“One issue that often leads to widely varying prices locally, which badly needs addressing, is the fact major retailers operate regional pricing which can mean much higher prices where there is little or no competition.
“But perhaps the biggest issue of all is that pump prices don’t always mirror movements on the wholesale market, particularly when the latter is coming down, so arguably that’s where the Government’s focus should be.
“Only when this happens will drivers stop losing out, as there have been far too many occasions when wholesale prices have plummeted, and pump prices have taken forever to drop.”