Plan to tackle rip-off at pumps with petrol price comparison site
Plan to tackle rip-off at the pumps with petrol price comparison site as watchdog raises competition concerns in the industry
- The Competition and Markets Authority will highlight price differences in a report
- Energy Secretary Grant Shapps backs ‘Pump Watch’ to monitor fuel prices
Ministers are about to introduce new measures to crack down on price comparison site scams as a watchdog raises concerns about competition in the sector.
The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is expected to highlight the large discrepancy in gas station prices when it releases its long-awaited report.
Energy Secretary Grant Shapps will support the idea of a new ‘Pump Watch’ site to give the public better information and allow the government to monitor the industry.
A government source said Mr Shapps was willing to change the law to force retailers to hand over real-time pricing information at every gas station in the country.
“Northern Ireland has a voluntary system, which has had some influence, but if the CMA recommends a comprehensive plan, we may have to change the law,” said the source.
“At the moment there is no way to force the retailers to hand over the data you need, but we are willing to change the law if necessary.”
The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is expected to highlight the major discrepancy in gas station prices when it releases its long-awaited report
The report was accelerated following a meeting last week between Jeremy Hunt and regulators.
The Chancellor said he was “committed to getting a fair deal for motorists.”
“I met with watchdogs this week to find out how to reduce day-to-day costs,” he said. “They have my 100 percent support to tackle unfair treatment.”
Ministers first ordered an inquiry into petrol station prices last year after concerns that a 5p fuel duty cut was not being passed on in full. In a December interim report, the CMA said prices “vary widely between local areas,” adding; “Prices are likely to be higher at gas stations where there are few (if any) competitors around.”
The watchdog also found that retailer margins were rising, with service station operators pocketing 3-4 pence more per liter than five years earlier.
And the CMA said it had found “evidence of ‘rocket and feather’ behavior emerging” in the wake of the global energy crisis.
Energy Secretary Grant Shapps will support the idea of a new ‘Pump Watch’ site to give the public better information and allow the government to monitor the industry
The report was accelerated following a meeting last week between Jeremy Hunt and regulators
The phrase refers to claims that garages inflate costs to the public like a rocket when the world oil price rises, but let them fall more slowly than a feather when the world price falls, pocketing the difference.
The report found that supermarkets tend to be the cheapest retailers, but warned that “at least one supermarket has significantly increased its forward-looking margins.”
Fair Fuel UK, which has long campaigned for a ‘Pump Watch’ regulator, estimates that petrol prices remain 10 pence a liter higher than they should be, adding more than £5 to the cost of an average tank of fuel.
The announcement is part of a wider move by ministers to ensure that drops in world prices are passed on to consumers.