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OFT will not hold full inquiry into fuel pricesBack

MPs and motoring groups are furious after the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) decided not to hold a full inquiry into whether fuel prices in the UK are being influenced.

The investigation by the OFT was put in place in September 2012 to look into whether petrol and diesel prices were falling in line with a drop in crude oil prices. It also questioned whether supermarkets or big oil companies were behaving in ways that made it more difficult for independent retailers to compete with them.

The OFT has since concluded from their investigation which was launched in September 2012, that there is “no evidence” to suggest foul play in the industry when it comes to petrol and diesel prices and that the petrol market is “working well” despite the fact that motorists are currently paying record-high prices for fuel.

Despite petrol prices rising from 76 pence per litre (ppl) in 2003 to 136ppl in 2012, and diesel rising from 78ppl to 142ppl, the report states that pre-tax “the UK has some of the cheapest road fuel prices in Europe”, and explains that the reason for these steep rises is down to an increase of nearly 24ppl in tax and duty and 33ppl in the cost of crude oil.

Despite the fact that ministers have indicated people are being “ripped off at the petrol pump”, the OFT has decided not to act on its findings which ministers and motoring bodies have found very frustrating. Instead, the report has concluded that prices rises have been driven by tax rises and rising oil prices. It also cites that motorway fuel is too expensive and has called on stations to warn drivers about the high prices.

Robert Halfon, the Conservative MP for Harlow, said it was “disappointing” that the watchdog has decided not to hold a full inquiry, and that families across the country were being “crushed”.

“It is disappointing that they will not hold a full inquiry,” Mr Halfon said. “For example, they admit that there is a problem with poor competition in many towns, such as Harlow – which keeps prices high at the pump – but they are not taking action.”

RAC technical director David Bizley said: “We’re extremely disappointed to hear the Office of Fair Trading will not be launching a full-scale review of petrol and diesel pricing in the UK.

“We have campaigned long and hard for greater price transparency and will continue to do so until this is recognised as a serious issue.

“We strongly urge the OFT to reconsider the decision.”

Posted by Leana Kell on 01/02/2013