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Lower-paid drivers still making cutbacks to afford fuel

The research finds that in January 2012, 65% of drivers in professional and senior management jobs were cutting back because of high pump prices. This has now fallen back to 52%.

However, at the start of 2012, 76% of skilled manual and service workers and 79% of the unskilled were cutting back on car use, other family spending or both to afford to stay on the road. Two years on, 70% in both groups continue to suffer.

The AA added that although average UK petrol prices for mid-January are down by 0.71p a litre, they remain stubbornly above 130p per litre despite many retailers selling it for at least 2p less in most major towns and cities. However, “postcode-lottery” towns that have been charging as much as 6p-a-litre more for supermarket petrol compared to neighbouring towns have mostly closed that gap to 3p.

Meanwhile diesel has fallen slightly to 138.24p a litre at the pump, down from an average of 138.61p last month.

Year-on-year, UK petrol pump prices are more than 2p lower and diesel almost 2p cheaper than at the start of 2013. Last mid-January, petrol averaged 132.71p and diesel 140.23.

The AA added that a comparison of wholesale and pump price movements for petrol in the UK shows that, in four of the past 12 weeks, average weekly wholesale costs fell to a level that would have pulled average UK pump prices down to 130p or below.

Unfortunately, disrupted oil supply from Libya and other market factors created enough wholesale price fluctuation to stop the UK’s average petrol pump price falling below the 130p-a-litre mark.

High winds, heavy rain and flooding through December are also expected to have hit pump sales volumes and hindered chances of beating the recent low of 130.13p a litre, which was set in the second week of November.

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Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for 16 years, previously as assistant editor on the former Company Car magazine before joining Fleet World in 2006. Prior to this, she worked on a range of B2B titles, including Insurance Age and Insurance Day. As Business Editor, Natalie ensures the group websites and newsletters are updated with the latest news.