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Drivers are being hit by a fresh surge in fuel prices with the cost of petrol and diesel rising for a fourth consecutive month – and further increases are expected before the end of the year piling more misery on motorists.

The UK average petrol pump price grew almost 5p-a-litre in September, rising from 152.49p to 157.01p. 

This is the 13th biggest monthly jump in price in the last 23 years and adds to the 7p jump recorded in August, the RAC said.

Diesel shot up by more than 8p per litre from 154.78p at the start of September to 163.11p at the close – the fifth largest monthly rise on record since 2000. 

The RAC has accused fuel retailers of pocketing increasing profit margins on petrol and warned drivers they face rising costs at filling stations in the coming months

The motoring group today warned there will be ‘little respite’ from rising prices in the coming months no matter which fuel drivers fill up with and accused retailers of pocketing higher profits on unleaded despite a recent watchdog investigation into the fuel sector.

But the Petrol Retailers Association hit back at the RAC’s suggestion this morning, saying it is ‘disappointing to read such sensational claims’. 

According to the RAC’s monthly fuel price update, filling a typical 55-litre fuel tank of a family petrol car today will cost motorists £86 on average – the highest it has been in 2023 so far, rising above levels last seen in December.

For those running an equivalent diesel car, they can export to fork out almost £90 with each visit to a filling station forecourt. 

That’s £4 more expensive when compared to August, and the highest price since April this year. 

Recent global oil production cuts drove the cost of a barrel to rise from $89 to around $96 during September, which – combined with the weaker value of the sterling against the dollar – means the wholesale cost of fuel for British sellers is increasing.

Yet, the RAC believes retailers are still not playing fair with the nation’s motorists – especially those who own and run petrol vehicles.

‘Drivers are sadly really starting to suffer again at the pumps with September seeing another 8p a litre added to the average price of diesel which comes hot on the tail of a similar increase in August,’ RAC fuel price spokesman, Simon Williams, explained. 

‘Petrol has also gone up 11p since the beginning of August so there’s little respite whichever fuel drivers use.

‘Our analysis of RAC Fuel Watch wholesale and retail data shows that petrol is currently overpriced by around 7p a litre, although the price of diesel is likely to go up further still in the coming weeks.’

A near 5p-a-litre rise in petrol prices in September is the 13th biggest monthly jump on record since 2023. With diesel growing more than 8p per litre, this is the fifth largest monthly rise dating back to the year 2000

Williams says the return of retailers increasing their margins is ‘worrying’ given the recent investigation by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), which slapped the wrist of the big four supermarkets after finding they had overcharged drivers for fuel by £900million last year.

‘While many [retailers] have voluntarily started to publish their prices ahead of being mandated to in law, we still have a situation where wholesale price changes aren’t being fairly reflected on the forecourt,’ he said.

‘In the last two weeks the wholesale cost of diesel has become 10p a litre more expensive than petrol, yet the gap at the pumps is only 5p. 

If retailers as a whole were playing fair with drivers petrol would be at least 7p cheaper than it is now, down to around 150p from its current average of 157p.’

‘Retailers aren’t ripping off driver,’ PRA says

This morning, fuel retailers have hit back at the RAC’s suggestion that they are raising their prices to exploit drivers.

‘Contrary to claims made by the RAC, our members are not unjustifiably pricing petrol higher than needed,’ said Gordon Balmer, executive director of the Petrol Retailers Association (PRA) – which represents independent forecourts that make up almost two third (64 per cent) of Britain’s filling stations.

‘Fuel margins have been under pressure due to increased operational costs that our members have had to bear.

‘To address rising labour expenses, energy costs, and the highest inflation rates in recent years and reduced fuel sales, margins have inevitably increased.’

He added: ‘Attempting to whip up public anger by suggesting otherwise is deeply irresponsible.

‘It is disappointing to read such sensational claims in the media regarding fuel margins. 

‘I have consistently reached out to commentators, seeking a rational discussion on this matter. Unfortunately, my requests appear to have gone unanswered. 

‘The PRA remains committed to advocate for our members and promote transparency within the sector. 

‘We are willing to engage with any mediator to facilitate a constructive and informed dialogue on these critical issues.’

A poll of 2,000 drivers has found that rising fuel prices are the biggest concern for motorists in the UK looking ahead to the next 12 months

Rising fuel prices the biggest financial concern for drivers, new poll says 

A new survey of 2,000 drivers by Close Brothers Motor Finance found that rising fuel prices is the biggest concern for motorists in the next 12 months, with 51 per cent of respondents listing it as a major financial challenge.

It is a greater concern that the escalating motor insurance premiums (34 per cent),  the cost of purchasing a new car (22 per cent), and road tax hikes (19 per cent) – and even more than the expansion of ULEZ and introduction of other daily charging zones across the country (13 per cent).

The study also found that one in ten (11 per cent) are having to ask people to contribute towards the cost of petrol when giving them a lift. 

And more than a quarter (27 per cent) have had to cut back on how often they drive their car.

Lisa Watson, director of sales at Close Brothers Motor Finance, said: ‘The ongoing hike at the pumps will add further pressure to drivers who already feel they’re faced with increased costs from all lanes.

‘Consumers all over the country are looking at ways to tackle the ongoing cost-of-living crisis. 

‘With high interest rates, inflation and the increasing prices at petrol pumps – many are now having to explore other measures to stretch their finances further – including charging loved ones for fuel when giving them a lift.’

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