EVERYONE knows what we pay at the pumps does not follow any reasoning or fairness when oil prices change.
For decades, the fuel supply chain — notably a few wholesalers — have ripped off drivers at will.
And they have consciously held back market price falls amounting to billions.
There is precious little hard-pressed drivers can do but put up with it.
They have reluctantly accepted this unchecked “free-for-all” market dynamic as an inevitability.
All this opaque pump-pricing process goes unchecked.
Government after government has just sat back and watched the mountain of fuel tax and VAT pour into the Exchequer’s strongboxes.
But these greedy, faceless businesses — and hundreds of shameless garages — have hit a new low in our fuel supply crisis.
Many of these forecourts are increasing the price of petrol and diesel at the pumps out of the bulk supply they have already paid lower prices for.
Drivers are watching pump prices change in front of their very eyes as they patiently queue to fill up.
And they are facing hostility, too, from a volatile minority of mindless drivers jumping the queues.
This is all caused by Transport Secretary Grant Shapps’s “Don’t panic” proclamation.
I am hearing that in Kent, one filling station upped pump prices from £1.37 to £1.48 a litre in the blink of an eye while drivers waited in line.
The London Gateway Welcome Break has rocketed prices to just shy of £1.59 per litre.
As one driver told me: ‘‘Welcome break? More like daylight robbery.”
Then there is the Pace Garage in Hereford, which put up a sign indicating unleaded was staggering £1.98 a litre (up from £1.38).
The owner says it was a joke as he wanted to prove no one looks at the price sign. Some joke!
Yes, supply and demand are at work here, but with many garages selling their weekly stock in a matter of hours — at bloated prices — their profits from this crisis are eye-watering and truly unprincipled.
And of course, the Government benefits from all these unrestrained price hikes, too, through both the tax revenue from fuel duty.
Just to remind you, that is 57.95p per litre (frozen for the past ten years thanks to Fair Fuel UK and The Sun’s Keep It Down campaign) — and VAT. If the price goes up, so does the Government’s share of the increase.
We are also now seeing oil prices rise above $80 a barrel for the first time in three years.
As a result, those greedy fuel supply chain businesses will now be licking their lips to create even more pump-pricing trickery.
Yet again, none of us will have any clue as to what we will be paying at the pumps.
It all adds up to a perfect storm for businesses to profiteer at our expense.
We estimate average pump prices will hit close to £1.50 in the coming month, in the lead-up to the Budget at the end of October.
What will that cost of filling up do to inflation and our post-Covid pandemic economic recovery?
We already pay £50billion a year in tax on our motorbikes, cars, vans and trucks.
That includes vehicle excise duty, fuel duty, VAT on duty, insurance tax, VAT on repairs, parts, benefit in kind on company cars etc.
That is nearly 7p in tax for every mile travelled.
And yet the greedy, unchecked oil speculators, wholesalers and oil companies fleece us and the economy at every chance they can.
Motorists will not forget who tried to cheat them in these fraught days and weeks. And nor should they.
Greedy petrol stations take note — rip people off at your peril.
Next time they will go somewhere else.
Scuffles like my 70s nightmare – Mike Ridley
THE sight of queues and scuffles on forecourts brought back memories of the 1970s and the nightmare my parents lived through.
In 1969 they bought a filling station and recruited me, their 11-year-old son, to serve petrol to our customers – at 30p A GALLON.
The six years that followed were traumatic.
During the miners’ work-to-rule in 1973, which caused electricity to go off for hours at a time, we would pump petrol into cars by hand.
When Arab producers dramatically increased the price of oil in the wake of war with Israel that same year, we were forced to ration petrol.
By 1974 the price of a barrel of oil had risen fourfold to $12.
My parents decided to limit drivers to a maximum spend of a quid – nearly ten litres.
But many filling stations cashed in by putting up prices.
I remember my mother telling us: “We won’t be doing that. These are our friends and neigh-bours, they will never forgive us.”
When I see stations upping prices now, I understand the pressures they are under, especially after Covid.
But we are all in this together and, trust me, we will not forget or forgive.