OFT fuel report

Waveney MP Peter Aldous today criticised the Office for Fair Trading (OFT) after their recent report on fuel competition found no need to a full enquiry.

The OFT report on fuel competition published on 30th January concluded that at a national level competition is working well in the fuel market but Aldous argues that the remit of the OFT investigation was too narrow and neglected to address the broader context of rural fuel poverty. The OFT report recognises that in August last year petrol and diesel prices in rural areas were 1.9 and 1.7 pence per litre more expensive respectively. The report also argues that there are some competition problems in local areas.

Mr Aldous argues that people living in rural and periphery areas such as Lowestoft and the Waveney area suffer a “triple whammy” in relation to fuels costs. They have greater distances to travel, pay more at the pumps and have relatively low incomes.

Countryside Alliance research published in November 2012 showed that:

  • on average, people living in rural local authorities paid £69.28 a month on fuel for their monthly commute - 25 per cent - more than people spend on fuel for their monthly commute in urban local authorities.
  • The top 10 local authorities for the cheapest monthly fuel costs are all classed as urban, with residents of the City of London and Aberdeen paying on average under £30 a month in fuel costs.
  • By contrast, 9 out of the 10 local authorities that have the most expensive monthly fuel costs are classed as rural, with residents in the Western Isles, Ceredigion and Maldon paying the most in fuel costs based on the average distance to work.

Mr Aldous’ analysis of 2012 Countryside Alliance data shows that:

  • Waveney residents travel an average of 400 miles a month to get to work compared to 160 miles in the City of London; 209 miles in Kensington and Chelsea; 275 miles in Cambridge.
  • This means that monthly fuel costs for those living in Waveney are an average of £70, more than double that in the City of London (£28); £36 in Kensington and Chelsea and £48 in Cambridge.
  • With average wages in Waveney at £444 per month compared to £792 in the City of London; £733 in Kensington and Chelsea; and £609 in Cambridge, Waveney residents are less able to afford high fuel prices.

Mr Aldous also points out that this is only part of the picture as people in rural areas have further to travel to access vital public services such as schools and hospitals and have far less access to public transport:

  • In rural areas overall, 39.2% of the population live within a short enough travel time of primary schools by foot or public transport to make them likely to make the journey, compared to 44.3% in urban areas.
  • In contrast, 16.7% of users in rural areas live within a short enough travel time of hospitals to make them likely to make the journey, compared with 31.6% elsewhere.

Mr Aldous said:

“Motorists in Waveney face a triple whammy when it comes to fuel costs, having further to travel to work and to access public services, paying more for their fuel and with relatively low incomes. The OFT Report identified problems in rural areas and should now conduct a full enquiry as to how competition in rural and periphery areas such as Waveney can be improved. I will be writing to the OFT and will be discussing with the Minister the impact of fuel prices on hard working people living in rural and periphery areas.”

Contact Peter Aldous MP

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Peter holds regular surgeries at various locations in the constituency. Please call 01502 586568 to make an appointment.


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