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RAC calls for fairer fuel prices after seventh monthly rise

Fuel prices increased for the seventh consecutive month in May 2021, according to the RAC Fuel Watch, returning to levels last seen before the first lockdown.

Fuel pump

Fuel prices increased for the seventh consecutive month in May.

Average prices for unleaded increased by 2.24p/litre in May, reaching 129.27p/litre – higher than it was in January 2020. Increases were similar for diesel, which was up 1.95p/litre to a 131.59p/litre nationwide average and within 1p/litre of prices at the start of 2020.

In each case, this equates to roughly an £8 increase to fill a 55-litre fuel tank. Based on fuel efficiency figures used by HM Revenue and Customs to set AMAP rates, a mid-size petrol car would cost 1.6p/mile more to run than it did six months ago, and a diesel 1.2p/mile.

Prices vary significantly by location. Drivers filling at a supermarket forecourt – where 60% of fuel is now sold, according to the RAC – will pay 124.83p for petrol and diesel 127.36p, saving around 4p/litre compared to the national average. In stark contrast, motorway service area forecourt averages were 146.78p/litre for petrol and 149.9p/litre for diesel.

RAC fuel spokesperson, Simon Williams, urged retailers not to “take advantage of drivers” and to “fairly reflect” wholesale prices. Oil producers had curbed supply due to lower demand during periods where travel has been restricted, he added, but this has increased as people start to drive more.

“As always, the future of fuel prices is hard to predict more than a few weeks in advance and even more so now as the pandemic appears to have altered the dynamics of fuel retailing, with the supermarkets having an even greater stranglehold on the market,” Williams explained.

“Looking at the wholesale price of both fuels, in normal circumstances unleaded definitely shouldn’t be continuing to rise with the numbers actually pointing to the potential for a 2p reduction. And diesel is currently 4p too expensive which suggests retailers are using the saving in the wholesale price to help make up for lower fuel sales over the last year.”

Regional prices (p/litre) are as follows:

Unleaded 01/05/2021 31/05/2021 Change
UK average 127.03 129.27 2.24
East 127.55 129.79 2.24
East Midlands 126.70 128.58 1.88
London 128.68 130.87 2.19
North East 125.62 128.19 2.57
North West 126.50 128.84 2.34
Northern Ireland 123.34 125.11 1.77
Scotland 126.60 128.78 2.18
South East 128.13 130.48 2.35
South West 127.17 129.63 2.46
Wales 126.08 128.21 2.13
West Midlands 126.74 129.28 2.54
Yorkshire and the Humber 125.92 128.09 2.17


Diesel 01/05/2021 31/05/2021 Change
UK average 129.64 131.59 1.95
East 130.40 132.31 1.91
East Midlands 129.43 131.32 1.89
London 130.75 132.79 2.04
North East 128.44 130.40 1.96
North West 129.23 131.06 1.83
Northern Ireland 125.30 127.47 2.17
Scotland 129.33 131.29 1.96
South East 130.96 132.89 1.93
South West 129.94 131.96 2.02
Wales 128.75 130.80 2.05
West Midlands 129.59 131.53 1.94
Yorkshire and the Humber 129.05 131.09 2.04


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Alex Grant

Trained on Cardiff University’s renowned Postgraduate Diploma in Motor Magazine Journalism, Alex is an award-winning motoring journalist with ten years’ experience across B2B and consumer titles. A life-long car enthusiast with a fascination for new technology and future drivetrains, he joined Fleet World in April 2011, contributing across the magazine and website portfolio and editing the EV Fleet World Website.

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