I was a guest on Boulton & Company on Sky TV today. I managed a few snippets in the limited time available, but here's what I'd like to have said.
So the Office of Fair Trading reckons the public is not being ripped off at the pumps. I don’t know about you, but I feel ripped off. And the Petrol Retailers Association say they can't explain to their customers why prices are so high. That's worrying. (Click here to see PRA press release).
I agree with them that the enquiry was too narrow, purely looking at whether the fuel companies were competing fiercely enough. But what if the prices for all these companies are being pushed up by commodities brokers betting on prices?
And maybe it’s time for the Government to reduce the 60% tax they rake off the top.
It would make sense if the tax was there to encourage people into greener habits, but rail and bus fares are sky high. In fact, those who thought they were being green by buying hybrids or small diesels are being slapped in the face – they’re losing their exemption to the congestion charge.
It’s truely shocking to hear how high fuel prices are affecting people’s lives. Hyundai’s recent survey of driving habits found that six in 10 families had missed out on a Sunday lunch invitation because of fuel costs; 30% said they could not afford to visit mum and dad, and one in five families admitted to cancelling visits to their grandparents.
A survey by the RAC and FairFuelUK found one in 16 people questioned had slept in their cars rather than commute, and 3% had camped near work to save on filling up.
In some cases people can’t take a new job because it’s too expensive to get there. Small businesses offering a mobile service, window cleaners, maid service, or pet feeders having to put prices up so high their customers vanish.
On a bigger scale, we’re all spending so much on fuel, we have less money to spend, while the cost of food, clothes, toys and anything that needs transporting are going up in price to cover the inceased costs of getting them to the shelves. Not good news if we’re hoping to avoid a triple-dip recsething when we’re trying the avoid a double-dip recession.
And there’s no end in sight. Oil companies claim they are spending money on environmental projects, but these all seem to extend the life of the same basic engine cars have been using for more than 100 years.
Wouldn’t it be great if the oil giants had the vision to create a new role for themselves in the future? Maybe they could spend some of their billions developing fuel cells or a super-efficient, light, safe battery – rather than leaving to the car companies.