Forecourt owners in the UK are adding to soaring inflation for consumers by charging many businesses that rely on diesel more than necessary at the pumps, campaigners have claimed.
The pump price for diesel is about 10% higher than for petrol, even though the wholesale market price is lower, reigniting concerns that forecourt owners are profiteering at the expense of diesel drivers.
The RAC estimates that on average forecourt owners are making double the profit from diesel users, which are often vans and trucks serving retail businesses, compared with the margins from sales of petrol.
Steve Gooding, the director of the RAC Foundation, said: “Diesel drivers could be forgiven for thinking they’re being taken advantage of. The wholesale price of the fuel is now below that of petrol yet still costs 15p a litre or so more at the pumps, much more than the historical gap of between 5p and 10p.”
The average pump price of diesel is 160.7p a litre, compared with 146.91p a litre for petrol, according to data from the RAC. The higher pump price has inflated the profits made by retailers to 22.36p a litre for diesel. This compares with a profit margin of about 9.16p a litre for petrol.
Gooding added: “Typically, diesel has been seen as a commercial fuel, with hauliers and businesses regarded as less sensitive than private motorists to price movements and with the option to pass on at least some of the price they pay to their customers. However, that simply means that the cost of living for all of us – drivers or not – goes up.”
The lobby group FairFuelUK has estimated that diesel drivers have paid on average 19.85p a litre more than petrol users since the start of the year, while wholesale market prices for the former fuel have been on average only 2.4p a litre higher over the same period.
The group, which campaigns to reduce VAT and duty on fuel, calculated that the “rip-off” prices mean diesel users may have paid an extra £1.3bn at the pumps since the start of the year, which could be contributing to inflated costs across the economy.
A government spokesperson said: “We urge all retailers to ensure savings on fuel are passed on to drivers and will act if necessary to ensure consumers get a fair deal on their fuel.”
The Petrol Retailers Association declined a request to comment.