Retailers have been cleared of petrol profiteering by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) in its review into the rising costs being seen in the fuel market.
The review was requested by business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng following doubts that petrol stations across the UK had passed the 5p-a-litre fuel duty cut onto consumers quickly enough.
The CMA said that it saw “no evidence… that retailers in aggregate have profited from failing to pass on the duty cut”.
It added that, at the time, there were price reductions in fuel from all petrol retailers, including supermarkets, company-operated sites and independent forecourts.
In summary, the CMA said: “Although there are concerns from some about fuel retailers profiting from the current situation, our review finds that over the course of a year, the gap between wholesale prices and retail prices (the ‘retailer spread’) has not been a significant contributor to the overall rise in pump prices.”
The review went on to outline the main factors affecting the rapid increase in fuel prices, which mean households now pay more than £500 per year extra to run a medium-sized petrol car.
It identified these as being the price of crude oil, the drop in value of sterling against the dollar and the difference in crude and wholesale oil prices, rather than a growing gap between wholesale and retail prices.
“We agree with the findings of the CMA’s investigation,” said the Petrol Retailers Association executive director Gordon Balmer.
“In recent months, we have seen motoring organisations and politicians attempting to scapegoat petrol retailers. This report exonerates petrol retailers and leaves unanswered questions about the extent to which these critics understand the retail fuel market at all.
“The Petrol Retailers Association will continue to invite politicians, campaign groups and motoring organisations to educate themselves better about the market. We hope the CMA’s market investigation will lead to a more grown-up debate about how to achieve the best prices for drivers.
“We are confident that this report will reassure motorists that petrol retailers are doing their best to keep their communities fuelled and fed, while operating on tight margins.”