Ordinary motorists are being legally mugged by the price of petrol. It’s time to put the brakes on fat-cat fuel barons
It is with dismay that I note the current prices displayed at petrol stations up and down the country. What is particularly hard to digest is the total lack of justification for today’s prices. The average motorist is currently paying just over £1.15 per litre unleaded, with some in London reaching £1.20, already echoing the notorious peak of July 2008.
However, the cost of crude oil is nowhere near the spike it hit during that time; in fact, it is only just over half. Where, therefore, is the reasoning behind hitting motorists so hard in the wallet? It is, unfortunately, to be located at the desks of a handful of investors instructing market speculators to drive prices up, and sustained by petrol companies not being prepared to pass falls directly on to the consumer.
So let us outline the impact of these price rises on those who feel it most acutely. First, hardworking families and rural communities, both of which are reliant on their cars. In my constituency in Lancashire, there is a large rural community: parents need to get children to school and farmers must move around the area. Any increase in the cost of a tank of petrol must be funded from their static household budgets.
Second, let us consider the UK’s haulage and transport industries, integral to the national economy – yet both are trembling beneath the weight of these excessive prices.
Exorbitant price increases and the ever-present uncertainty over further increases are a mounting burden to motorists. The result is a transport industry already struggling and now facing still further fuel inflation. All of this at a time when the economy needs nurturing and all the help it can get.
In short, petrol consumers are being legally mugged.
It is high time that urgent and sustainable action is taken. Petrol companies have been getting away with this for far too long. The government needs to address the issue with vigour and show its commitment to helping ordinary members of the public. We should not be steamrollered by a handful of dominant companies which monopolise the supply chain with ease.
I believe there are two courses of action to be taken: the planned 3p increase in petrol duty should be delayed indefinitely; and petrol companies should be more effectively regulated – we have allowed them to become too powerful.
Indeed, we should be considering a windfall on these companies in order to fund a reduction in overall duty. Regulation of petrol companies and the major retailers must demonstrate commitment to the motorist and the UK’s hard-pressed transport industries.
Petrol companies once known for exploration should now be under the spotlight for their exploitation. And we should be willing to demonstrate resoundingly that we will not be held to ransom by fat-cat fuel barons.