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Petrol prices fall, but calls for transparency remain

If there is one thing that is guaranteed to be discussed on a daily basis it is the price of petrol. No matter where you live in the UK or what you earn petrol prices will always get the blood pressure rising for all drivers. This annoyance with paying over the odds has risen as pump prices tend to go up violently when the wholesale market dictates, but fail to come down again at the same rate.

Fuel prices hit an all-time high earlier this summer due to rising wholesale costs and the weakness of the British pound against the likes of the American Dollar; in which oil is priced. However, a peaceful resolution to the Syrian crisis and the pound performing better against the dollar has seen wholesale fuel prices fall dramatically to be at their lowest since 2008. Petrol giants slashed their prices in accordance with the drops in wholesale costs and seem to be finally reacting to numerous motoring groups’ call for more transparency in the pricing of fuel in order to maintain faith in the petrol pricing structure.

Filling the car with the petrol

The traditional nature of the petrol price increasing faster than it goes down is having a drastic effect on households living on the breadline. According to a survey by the RAC earlier this year, three quarters of motorists claim that they are struggling to make ends meet because of the soaring cost of fuel. This has led to RAC putting its weight behind the Petrol Retailers Association (PRA) assertion that pump prices should always and quickly reflect wholesale prices to keep motorists on side and allow them to understand the reasons for prices rising and falling, so regularly.

The on-going situation with the perceived lack of transparency in fuel pricing is prompting leading lights inside and outside of the motor industry to raise the alarm. Tory MP Robert Halfon called for the Office of Fair Trading to investigate the petrol market in more detail; whereas the AA believes that the companies have been too quick to pass on the cost to motorists in the past and that too many speculators in the commodity market are hitting motorists unfairly in the wallet.

Alarmingly though, these pricing concerns are just the tip of the iceberg as reports of thousands of litres of fuel are being stolen from petrol stations everyday. The PRA believes that the issue of “drive-offs” is reaching “epidemic levels”. It is believed that this spate of incidents is being driven by two particular sets of groups: those who can simply not afford to pay and organised gangs stealing petrol in bulk.

The PRA is calling on the Government to do more to stop motorists filling up and running off without paying as police just do not have the ability to do much. Currently, the police rely on retailers to supply number plates and install CCTV, but before prosecuting they must have clear evidence of criminal intent by the motorist not to pay for their petrol.

With disgruntled motorists uncertain over the legitimacy of fuel pricing it seems as though petrol thefts and murmurs of discontent will continue as long as the era of austerity continues.

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