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Drivers suffer petrol price rises for eight out of the last 12 months

Press Release   •   Sep 05, 2018 00:01 BST

August saw yet another rise in the price of both petrol and diesel meaning that prices have gone up for eight of the last 12 months making both fuels 13p more expensive than this time last year, new RAC Fuel Watch data reveals*.

Pump prices continue to creep ever upward with unleaded increasing by 1.65p to 130.59p and diesel by 1.32p to 132.19p in the month. A year ago, however, petrol was 117.51p and diesel was 118.37p. Sadly, the combination of a weaker pound and an oil price of over $70 a barrel has sent prices shooting up. In the past year only the months of June, February and October have given drivers a little respite at the petrol pumps. And it was worse for diesel drivers with nine months of increases.

The average price of petrol in the UK is now at its highest since the end of July 2014 just before the price of a barrel of oil began to freefall and diesel is at its most expensive since the beginning of October the same year. The very important costly difference for every driver, however, is that back then oil was $106 a barrel and the pound was worth $1.70.

Now, in stark contrast, oil finished August at $77.54 while sterling was only worth $1.29 which means both petrol and diesel are far more expensive for retailers to buy on the wholesale market. So despite the lower oil price, the substantially weakened pound has caused fuel prices to reach their highest levels for the last four years.

There have been no significant reductions in the average cost of supermarket fuel since 24 June, meaning by the end of August prices had crept up by 3.38p for petrol (123.77p to 127.15p) and by 3.12p for diesel (127.23p to 130.35p).

The cost of filling a 55-litre family car with unleaded is £71.82 – an increase of 91p on July and £7.32 dearer than a year ago. For diesel, the equivalent cost is £73.29 for a tank today – 73p more than last month and £8.19 more expensive than at the end of August 2017.

RAC fuel spokesperson Simon Williams said: “August was another bad month for motorists and it’s rapidly becoming a horrible year on the UK’s forecourts and it looks like further increases are inevitable. Having benefitted from some very low prices two and a half years ago drivers get a nasty shock every time they go to fill up their cars, having to fork out more and more.

“While it’s clearly a tough time for regular motorists unfortunately there is currently no end in sight to the rising cost of fuel. With the pound at such a low against the dollar, and fuel being traded in the US currency, it will only take a moderate rise in the price of oil for some eye-wateringly high prices to be seen at the pumps.

“With many factors at play on the global oil market the price of a barrel could easily break through the $80 mark and stay there. If this were to happen it would be dire news for drivers and we could even see pump prices heading towards the record highs of April 2012 when petrol hit an average of 142p a litre and diesel 148p.”

Pricing – what has happened to UK pump prices since September 2017

Petrol prices through month Diesel prices through month
August ▲ Up ▲ Up
July ▲ Up ▲ Up
June ▼ Down ▼ Down
May ▲ Up ▲ Up
April ▲ Up ▲ Up
March ▬ Unchanged ▬ Unchanged
February ▼ Down ▼ Down
January ▲ Up ▲ Up
December ▲ Up ▲ Up
November ▲ Up ▲ Up
October ▼ Down ▲ Up
September ▲ Up ▲ Up

Regional fuel price variation

Regional average unleaded pump prices

The North East and Scotland suffered the largest rise in the price of unleaded in August at 1.81p a litre. Northern Ireland once again had the cheapest petrol at the start and end of the month, closing August at 129.38p but the East Midlands had the smallest a 1.45p a litre. In the South East unleaded was the most expensive across the UK at 131.46p.

Unleaded 01/08/2018 30/08/2018 Change
North East 128.01 129.82 1.81
Scotland 128.68 130.49 1.81
North West 128.40 130.18 1.78
South East 129.69 131.46 1.77
Wales 128.67 130.37 1.70
Yorkshire And The Humber 128.32 130.00 1.68
London 129.52 131.18 1.66
West Midlands 128.44 130.09 1.65
South West 129.27 130.88 1.61
East 129.38 130.93 1.55
Northern Ireland 127.93 129.38 1.45
East Midlands 128.90 130.26 1.36

Regional average diesel pump prices**

Diesel went up the most in the North West and North East, increasing by around 1.48p a litre. Northern Ireland experienced the lowest increase at 99p as well having the cheapest diesel at 131.77p a litre. Unsurprisingly, the South East also had the dearest diesel in the land at 134.03p. 

Diesel 01/08/2018 30/08/2018 Change
North West 131.75 133.23 1.48
North East 131.15 132.62 1.47
South East 132.64 134.03 1.39
Wales 131.72 133.09 1.37
Scotland 132.10 133.46 1.36
London 132.39 133.70 1.31
West Midlands 131.34 132.63 1.29
Yorkshire And The Humber 131.12 132.41 1.29
East 132.56 133.84 1.28
East Midlands 131.86 133.12 1.26
South West 132.15 133.41 1.26
Northern Ireland 130.78 131.77 0.99

Notes to Editors

* UK average fuel prices quoted in theRAC Fuel Watch August 2018 report are based on Experian Catalist data from 1 to 30 August 2018 (pump prices).

For all media enquiries, please contact the RAC press team on +44 (0)1454 664 123. The line is manned by an on-call press officer outside office hours. ISDN radio studio facilities are available for interviews Monday to Friday.

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First formed in 1897, the RAC has been looking after the needs of its members and championing the interests of drivers for more than 120 years.

Today it has more than eight million members and is one of the UK’s most progressive motoring organisations, providing services for both private and business motorists. Whether it's roadside assistanceinsurancebuying a used carvehicle inspections and checkslegal services or up-to-the-minute traffic and travel information – the RAC offers a solution for all motoring needs. The RAC is committed to making motoring easier, safer, more affordable and more enjoyable for drivers and road users.

The RAC is the motorist’s champion and campaigns to support the interests of its members and UK drivers at a national level. This includes voicing concerns about the increasing cost of motoring, particularly the price of fuel and the high level of tax levied on it, advancing levels of road safety, and supporting the needs of all drivers, from young to old.

The RAC’s annual Report on Motoring – first published in 1989 – is one of a kind and provides a clear insight into the concerns and issues facing today’s motorists.

For the very latest news on UK fuel prices, check RAC Fuel Watch. It provides a comprehensive guide to the latest UK unleaded petrol and diesel prices – both at the wholesale level and at the pump - and tracks these prices daily to help drivers check if the price they pay to fill up is a fair one.