Fleet News

Labour blamed as fuel prices rocket

MOTORISTS and fleet managers are suffering under a rip-off Government, not rip-off oil companies, MPs have heard, amid renewed fears about the rocketing price of fuel. New figures from fuel card giant ARVAL PHH have revealed pump prices in the UK have hit their highest level this year, sparking fears of renewed blockades of fuel refineries that brought the UK to a standstill last year.

The average price of unleaded petrol has hit 79p per litre (359p per gallon), up from 77.33ppl (351ppg) in May. Martin Hender, director of fuel at ARVAL PHH, said: 'With fuel prices still so high, UK competitiveness is being eroded. The Government has a golden opportunity to use its renewed majority to reduce fuel taxes, because otherwise we could see severe economic consequences.'

High fuel prices have sparked attacks on fuel companies for not passing on cuts in oil prices, particularly as the gap between UK prices and fuel costs in Continental Europe have widened. John Redwood MP (Wokingham) told Parliament: 'We have a rip-off Government, which dares to blame the petrol companies when it is the Government which is the main beneficiary and the main raider at the pumps. It is not rip-off oil companies, but a rip-off Government.'

The Conservatives had pledged to slash petrol taxation if they won the election. Ray Holloway, director of the Petrol Retailers' Association, said: 'Petrol retailers achieve a margin of about 2.5p per litre (11.36p per gallon). Compare that to the 60ppl (272.76ppg) the Government makes and the 20ppl (90.92ppg) the oil companies make and retailers are justified in clawing back minor increases in profits.'

Minister for Industry and Energy Brian Wilson refused to 'take control' of fuel prices, saying: 'The Government believes that free and open competition between fuel suppliers provides consumers with supplies at the best available prices. We are in regular contact with the industry on this and other issues.'

Figures from ARVAL PHH showed that the highest price for unleaded was Belfast, at 79.77ppl (362.65ppg) and the lowest Southend 76.72ppl (348.76ppg). For diesel, the highest was Oban, at 79.53ppl (361.55ppg) and the lowest was Southend at 76.05ppl (345.73ppg).

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