Petrol prices have surged to a record high and are expected to climb further in coming weeks, adding to the burden on UK households’ already squeezed budgets.
The AA said petrol surpassed 148p a litre on Sunday, rising above the previous record high of 147.72p on 21 November last year.
Diesel prices have also risen, with the average price for a litre at 151.57p, compared with 151.10p on 20 November 2021.
The increases have been driven by growing demand after the reopening of global economies and mounting tensions between Russia and Ukraine. A barrel of Brent crude, the global benchmark for oil, traded above $95 (£76.25) a barrel on Monday, its highest in seven years.
“The cost of living crisis has been ratcheted up yet another notch, tightening the vice on family spending when it faces other pressures from impending domestic energy cost and tax increases,” said Luke Bosdet, the AA’s fuel price spokesperson.
A poll conducted by the AA on 15,335 of its members found 43% of motorists were cutting back on car use, other consumer spending or both. This figure rose to 59% among younger drivers and 53% for lower-income motorists.
Inflation is running at an almost 30-year high of 5.4%, and official figures on Wednesday are expected to show more pain for households and heap pressure on the Bank of England to increase interest rates again.
An RAC’s fuel spokesperson, Simon Williams, said: “Petrol has unfortunately hit a frightening new high of 148.02p which takes filling a 55-litre family car to an eye-watering £81.41. With the oil price teetering on the brink of $100 a barrel and retailers keen to pass on the increase in wholesale fuel quickly, new records could now be set on a daily basis in the coming weeks.
“The oil price is rising due to tensions between Russia – the world’s third-biggest oil producer – and Ukraine, along with oil production remaining out of kilter with demand as the world emerges from the pandemic. As a result drivers in the UK could be in for an even worse ride as pump prices look certain to go up even more.
“On a positive note, retailer margins – which were the reason drivers paid overly high prices in December and January – have now returned to more normal levels of around 7p a litre.
“We urge the big four supermarkets, which dominate fuel sales, to play fair with drivers and not to make a bad situation on the forecourt any worse by upping their margins again.”