A month ago the price of oil rose, sterling went down and forecourt pump prices rocketed. Drivers across the land watched with increasing alarm as the dials whizzed round ever faster. Since then the price of oil has fallen and sterling has gone up. Yet pump prices stuck fast at 117p a litre.
This is yet another example of how pump prices jump like a rocket yet fall like a feather. Only when tackled in the media over the weekend have prices started to fall, with the supermarkets leading the way.
This is why I got over 50 Conservative MPs together to make a joint call for action. There needs to be a fairer deal for drivers at the pumps. For too long, greedy big oil companies have been making the fuel market work for them. It needs to work for the drivers. We need a fair deal at the pumps, a transparent market and a crackdown on predatory pricing.
Our Government has done a lot. Fuel duty has been frozen since 2011. Labour's notorious fuel escalator has been junked. It’s now time for big oil companies do their bit too. They must act fairly to drivers, businesses and the hard working classes of modern Britain.
Since the EU referendum it’s clear to see how drivers have been taken for a ride. Research by the FairFuel campaign shows that in August, following the referendum, wholesale fuel prices fell by 5% but pump prices didn’t move. Then in late September and early October when wholesale prices rose by 5%, pump prices immediately jumped. Most recently, the wholesale price of fuel fell by 4p between October 10th and November 10th. Even with the 3p cut started by the supermarkets this week, pump prices still have further to fall for drivers to get a fair deal at current oil prices.
So it’s clear to see why pricing transparency is such a grave concern to drivers. People feel deeply that prices rise like a rocket and fall like a feather as oil prices fluctuate – because that is exactly what happens. That’s why we need the Government to set up PumpWatch - a powerful and independent watchdog.
The fuel duty freeze since 2011 has been of huge benefit to drivers, saving £126 a year. This makes such a difference as transport is the second largest cost for most families. The freeze has boosted the economy without losing revenue – as the total collected through income tax has risen. We want to build a country that works for everyone. Let’s start driving that forward by giving every motorist a fairer deal on the forecourt.
Charlie Elphicke has been the MP for Dover since 2010 and is a member of Conservative Way Forward's Parliamentary Council. He Chairs the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Fair Fuel.