Motorists facing years of high fuel bills as Office of Fair Trading rejects referring petrol market to Competition Commission

Watchdog launched a study last September to investigate accusations of predatory pricing by supermarkets

Motorists are facing years of petrol price misery after the Office of Fair Trading decided not to refer the road fuel market to the Competition Commission.

The watchdog launched a study last September to investigate accusations of predatory pricing by supermarkets. It also examined claims that falls in the price of crude oil are not reflected quickly in pump prices, while price hikes are instantly acted on.

Petrol prices have soared in recent years, almost doubling between 2003 and 2012. The OFT’s study showed that petrol prices climbed from 76p a litre to £1.36 over the nine years and from 78p to £1.42 a litre for diesel.

But the OFT disappointed consumer groups and business organisations by blaming the seemingly relentless series of price hikes on tax and duty hikes.

And as it found no evidence of anti-competitive behaviour, it will not recommend that the issue gets full regulatory scrutiny.

Clive Maxwell, the OFT’s chief executive, said: “We recognise that there has been widespread mistrust in how this market is operating. However, our analysis suggests that competition is working well, and rises in pump prices over the past decade or so have largely been down to increases in tax and the cost of crude oil.”

Brian Madderson, chairman of the Petrol Retailers Association, accused the OFT of letting drivers down. “How can the OFT tell motorists and businesses that the market is working in the consumer’s interests?” he said.

He warned that as a result there will be more independent gas stations closing down, higher fuel prices and a higher risk of transport disruption in a crisis.

The OFT also dismissed claims of ‘rocket and feather’ price fixing, when pump prices rise quickly when the wholesale price goes up but fall more slowly when it drops.

It analysed 12 years’ worth of price data and “found very limited evidence to support such claims”.

The Forum of Private Business was scathing about the report. “We will have to take the findings of the OFT investigation on board that there was little evidence of collusion of price fixing,” said Alex Jackman, head of policy. “It is a difficult finding to swallow, however, given the lag times that seem to exist between wholesale prices dropping and pump prices following which are there for all to see.”

Edmund King, president of motorist organisation the AA, said: “The OFT sees the fuel pricing market as competitive but this clashes with drivers’ frustration on the forecourts. If fuel pricing is fair and competitive, there is no reason not to publish petrol and diesel wholesale prices to prove the point and reassure motorists.”

The OFT did concede that fuel can be significantly more expensive at motorway service stations and has asked the Department for Transport to consider new road signs that would warn motorway drivers of the higher prices they will be charged.

News
people And here is why...
News
people
News
peopleStella McCartney apologises over controversial Instagram picture
Arts and Entertainment
Hayley Williams performs with Paramore in New York
musicParamore singer says 'Steal Your Girl' is itself stolen from a New Found Glory hit
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Associate Recrutiment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: SThree Group have been well ...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + OTE: SThree: Real Staffing Group is seeking Traine...

Year 6 Teacher (interventions)

£120 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: We have an exciting opportunity...

PMLD Teacher

Competitive: Randstad Education Manchester: SEN Teacher urgently required for ...

Day In a Page

Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Why do we like making lists?

Notes to self: Why do we like making lists?

Well it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
Hong Kong protests: A good time to open a new restaurant?

A good time to open a new restaurant in Hong Kong?

As pro-democracy demonstrators hold firm, chef Rowley Leigh, who's in the city to open a new restaurant, says you couldn't hope to meet a nicer bunch
Paris Fashion Week: Karl Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'

Paris Fashion Week

Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'
Bruce Chatwin's Wales: One of the finest one-day walks in Britain

Simon Calder discovers Bruce Chatwin's Wales

One of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
10 best children's nightwear

10 best children's nightwear

Make sure the kids stay cosy on cooler autumn nights in this selection of pjs, onesies and nighties
Manchester City vs Roma: Five things we learnt from City’s draw at the Etihad

Manchester City vs Roma

Five things we learnt from City’s Champions League draw at the Etihad
Martin Hardy: Mike Ashley must act now and end the Alan Pardew reign

Trouble on the Tyne

Ashley must act now and end Pardew's reign at Newcastle, says Martin Hardy
Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?