FairFuelUK, the Nationally Recognised Award Winning Campaign fighting for lower petrol & diesel prices, is widely accredited with stopping £30 billion of road user taxes being levied on businesses & public in this Parliament
Quentin Willson is one of Britain’s best-known motoring authorities and is lead campaigner for FairFuelUK. He spent over a decade presenting BBC's Top Gear and was largely responsible for bringing the once scandalously high prices of new cars in the UK down to the same level as the rest of Europe.
See his new and very popular Classic Car Show on Channel 5
The news this week that the Institute for Fiscal Studies recommends that George Osborne should raise fuel duty to keep his deficit reduction on track has got economists scratching their heads. Everybody, including The Treasury, agrees that freezing fuel duty since 2011 has brought significant benefits to the UK economy. The CEBR has calculated that low transport costs have raised GDP by 0.6%, created 121,000 jobs and created an extra £11.6 billion of economic activity. Even The Treasury has admitted that ‘freezing fuel duty benefits the economy enough to offset almost all the immediate loss of tax income and the short term gains that have been measured since the freeze was put into place will extend for decades, boosting GDP to higher levels than previously estimated’. And far from costing the government tax revenue the freeze has actually improved tax receipts to The Treasury by a net gain of £1.3 billion. and that’s because of all the extra income tax, corporation tax and VAT from all that increased consumer activity out there. And, let’s not forget, that its consumers on the street that have helped us spend our way out of recession. Consumer activity accounts for 60% of all GDP. But consumers will only spend if they can drive.
So why publish a report that clearly goes against accepted wisdom and established facts? Sadly its not that simple. There are agendas here. The IFS has a known tendency for a bit of green flag waving and cars, vans, trucks and roads don’t really fit into their world view. We know that Mr Osborne is under great pressure from the Greens to reduce road use (high fuel duty was always a handy way to reduce transport pollution) and the recent diesel emissions scandal has embolden the Green’s ardour. So we must take this IFS report with a little scepticism. But the most worrying thing could be that No 11 actually wanted a report with conclusions like this. Forgive me if I sound like a conspiracy theorist but if you wanted to raise fuel duty in the next budget but knew it was political suicide, you’d soften everybody up with furlongs of weighty flannel to bolster your case in advance of the dreadful deed. But the evidence out there against raising duty is now so overwhelming that that would be foolish, wouldn’t it? Let’s see what else comes out of the woodwork in the next few months (and I hope my theory isn’t true) but if we see lots of contrary conclusions like the IFS report we can only come to the inevitable and sad conclusion that George is working behind the scenes to get drivers ready for a painful budget. We think this would be a big mistake - both politically and economically - and if you agree drop your MP a line. Better still why not write to George himself. His address is easy: No 11 Downing Street, London. SW1A 2AB. The more who write, the less we'll pay. We will be putting up an easy link to do this by email very shortly. Make sure you have signed up to support FairFuelUK so you get that link asap.
Seeing prices of 8.43p per litre (46 cents per US Gallon) in
Michigan is economically mind-boggling for the UK motorist to grasp or
experience. At this undreamed of level, State and Federal Taxes aggregate to a
more UK recognised tax take of 74%. But that is where any across the pond
comparison stops. How the US fuel supply chain can make any money at this price
is fantasy and almost perilous in terms of commercial viability. But such local
price wars are fleeting and only show the difference in motoring culture
between the UK and our cousins in the US. UK retailers are constrained by high
taxation, fuel supply chain price control and supermarket dominance.
Retail outlets in Michigan recently average 30p per litre (http://fuelgaugereport.aaa.com/states/michigan/)
where the fuel tax proportion drops to a hugely consumer attractive level of
21%. In the UK petrol prices are currently around £1.00, 240% more than our
Cadillac colleagues pay at the pumps, and with VAT and Duty here in Blighty
every driver gives 75% of their fill-up to the Chancellor.
There is a snowball’s chance in hell that such a Michigan turf
price war will ever take place in the UK. Our fuel supply chain businesses and
how they control pump pricing remains impenetrable and substantial. And that is
why FairFuelUK, with its 1.2m supporters, is working as the secretariat to the
All Party Parliamentary Group on Fair Fuel, to try and make sense as to when
oil prices change, to determine the calculations they use to affect pump price
variations. The Competition and Markets Authority threw out FairFuelUK’s
extensive evidence of pricing manipulation back in 2014 and pump prices experts
in the 1st pricing inquiry APPG in December 2015, chaired by Jason McCartney MP
and vice chaired by Robert Flello MP, said that consumers simply imagine rocket
and feather pricing (see extract at https://youtu.be/14au1PCWBgQ).
Until there is real clarity in the pricing process at the pumps,
consumers will never benefit fairly from raw commodity market changes. The
Government seems disinclined to look at this issue seriously and disingenuously
hide their largest fuel taxation rip off regimen in any EU state by bragging
about falling oil prices benefitting consumers. They are indeed helping as
FairFuelUK has proven for the last 5 years, but not speedily enough or by
anyway the right amounts.
FairFuelUK calls for an independent consumer run regulatory body
such as ‘OfPump’ that ensures that 37m UK drivers get a fair deal at the pumps
and to ensure that retailers make a decent and viable living too.
campaigns main objective remains - to see a 3p cut in fuel duty. Sign Up to Support
motorists, businesses, white van men are deliberately being fleeced
at the pumps as oil prices continue to tumble. With various businesses in the
fuel supply chain from refineries to retailers shamelessly increasing their
profits, our recent fuel pricing data from highly reputable sources shows that
it is diesel that is being exploited predominantly at the pumps.
Since May 2015, oil prices in sterling have fallen by over 55.8% and yet
wholesale prices for petrol in the same period (net of all taxes) have dropped
by only 39.9% and at the pumps even less at just 26.9%.
Whilst wholesale diesel prices have nearly matched the fall in oil prices by
dropping 54%, at the pumps, staggeringly drivers are not getting the same and
are paying just 34.6% less. Pointing categorically to retailers not passing on
these sizable oil and wholesale falls to 37m UK drivers and instead clearly
using diesel as way to increase their forecourt profits.
In addition, since January 2015 wholesale diesel supplied to retailers has been
higher priced than petrol on average for 30 weeks. At the pumps however, diesel
drivers have been paying more than petrol for an average 49 weeks of the
In the last year Diesel has averaged 114p with petrol at 110p per litre. Based
on the last 5 weeks’ average wholesale prices since 14th December, diesel
should now be at least 3p lower than petrol at the pumps. They are not!
This means retailers have not passed on at least £2.25m of wholesale price cuts
per day to diesel drivers amounting to £83m since 14th December or £75 per
driver per year (Based on 75m litres of diesel sold each day).
The Government benefits too from the retailing profiteering, gaining more VAT
on these unfair levels of diesel prices to the tune of an extra £37k each day.
None of this retailer and Government exploitation as a consequence is used in
Current retail margins based on average wholesale reported prices at 20th
January subtracted from average pump prices show for diesel to be 11p per litre
and petrol to be 5.8p per litre. On this basis diesel is being blatantly
exploited even more starkly by over 5p more than the retail return on petrol
(net of all tax). Equating to drivers of diesel cars being fleeced of £3.75m
each day in rightful price falls at the pumps.
In the last 2 weeks, oil in sterling has fallen 15.2%, wholesale petrol (net of
all taxes) dropped 7.3% with retail falling just 0.7%. Wholesale diesel has
fallen in the same period 19.1% but at the pumps only 6.1%. Pointing to a long
awaited start to the equalisation of diesel and petrol prices at the pumps. Quentin Willson, TV
Motoring Journalist and lead campaigner for FairFuelUK said:
"Weeks and weeks of increased profits on every litre of diesel sold and weeks
and weeks of not passing savings on to motoring consumers. And the fuel and oil
industries wants us to feel sympathetic?'
Howard Cox, Founder of the
FairFuelUK Campaign said: "Everything about fuel pricing
hits UK drivers hard at the pumps from opportunistic profiteering suppliers
holding onto beneficial recent oil price falls, to the heinous 74% taxation in
Duty and VAT. We call on the Competition and Markets Authority and the
Government to stop the unparalleled exploitation of motorists and our vital
haulage industry. ”