UK drivers were hit by one of the largest monthly fuel price hikes in 23 years, new analysis shows.
Figures from the RAC show motorists were stung by a 7p per litre rise in the average cost of petrol in August, representing the largest monthly increase for more than two decades.
Average diesel prices skyrocketed by 8p per litre, the sixth largest over the same period – increases that the RAC said was down to a spike in the cost of oil. Figures have crept up by almost 12 US dollars per barrel since July, reaching nearly $87 as production group Opec+ reduced its supplies.
It comes as an investigation by The Independent revealed drivers are also feeling the pain of soaring car insurance premiums – up 48 per cent on average in the past year – which is driving some to sell their vehicles.
RAC fuel spokesperson Simon Williams said: “August was a big shock to drivers as they had grown used to seeing far lower prices than last summer’s record highs.
“Seeing £4 or more go on to the cost of a tank in the space of just a few weeks from a pump price rise of 6-7p a litre is galling, particularly for those who drive lots of miles or run an older, less fuel-efficient car.
“While the increase is clearly bad news for drivers, it could have been far worse had the biggest retailers not let their inflated margins from earlier in the year return to more normal levels as wholesale fuel costs went up.”
“All we can hope is that this move by many big retailers back to fairer forecourt pricing remains when wholesale costs go down again. Only time will tell.”
In July, an analysis by PetrolPrices identified the steepest prices for fuel in the UK at the M6 Stafford services, where BP and Esso were charging 175.9p.
The same month, supermarkets were accused of profiteering from “rip off” fuel prices amidst the cost of living crisis, with an investigation concluding that drivers paid almost £1bn too much in fuel costs in 2022.
As a result, prime minister Rishi Sunak pledged to stop motorists being used as “cash cows” because the report – commissioned by the Competition and Markets Authority – found that fuel retailers had charged an extra 6p per litre between 2019 and 2022.
Drivers were charged between £2.70 and £3.90 too much for a tank of petrol or diesel each time they filled up in recent years, the data added.
Downing Street’s proposed legislation promised to force fuel retailers to make up-to-date diesel and petrol prices available to third parties, a move that is expected to lead to the creation of price comparison apps enabling drivers to choose the cheapest fuel in their area.
The legislation also proposed giving fresh powers to “closely monitor” pump prices and “alert” ministers if further intervention is needed, with plans to launch a consultation on the policy in the autumn.
POST AUTHOR: Eleanor Noyce