Motorists not getting the best fuel prices

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fuel prices

fuel pricesThe Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has launched an investigation into whether reductions in the cost of crude oil are being passed on to motorists, with many drivers still not benefiting from the best fuel prices.

There has long been a suspicion that forecourt prices are much quicker to rise than fall, and the watchdog has called for information from the industry, motoring groups and consumer bodies amid concerns over the prices charged for petrol and diesel at the pumps.

Petrol prices rose by 38% between June 2007 and June 2012, while diesel prices went up by 43% over the same period.

Such significant hikes have forced many of us off the road, with families trying to cut back on mileage in an effort to save money.

However, there was some good news for motorists earlier this year when the 3p rise in fuel duty, which was planned for this month, was scrapped.

Review

The OFT said it will be gathering data over the next six weeks, with a view to publishing its findings in January next year.

It aims to explore a number of claims about how the roads fuel sector - which is worth an estimated £32 billion in the UK - is functioning, including those that insinuate supermarkets and major oil companies are making it more difficult for independent retailers to compete.

The review will also consider whether there is a lack of competition between fuel retailers in some remote communities.

Both the Department for Transport and AA president Edmund King have welcomed the decision to investigate fuel pricing, with the latter claiming the move is "overdue".

RAC Foundation director Professor Stephen Glaister also applauded the review. He added: "We also welcome scrutiny of what the rapid decline in the number of petrol stations has meant for fuel supply and price.

"In 1990 there were some 18,000 forecourts. Now there are fewer than 9,000."

Pay less

Filling up your car at big supermarkets can save you money as they often sell fuel at competitive prices. For example, you can usually get a certain amount of money off per litre for spending a specified sum in store.

Signing up to a supermarket loyalty scheme such as Nectar or Tesco Clubcard is also worthwhile. You can then collect points when you buy petrol, which you can eventually turn into pounds.

Another tip is to pay for your fuel on a cashback credit card. This way you earn cashback every time you spend. However, some cards include an annual fee, so you have to work out whether the card will ultimately save you money.

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