Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 21 September 2014

Fuel tax cut ‘wasn’t passed on’ to Northern Ireland motorists

Independent traders didn’t apply Budget reduction in full, says watchdog

Independent traders have been accused of not passing on the full reduction in petrol duty promised to motorists in last week’s Budget.

Fuel pumps at independent retailers across Northern Ireland are not offering the expected 1p cut in fuel prices, a report from the Consumer Council says.

The report claims that while most supermarkets are passing on the reduction, smaller traders have failed to filter the saving through to customers.

It also accuses some supermarkets of using local pricing policies, creating a difference of up to 7p per litre depending on where motorists fill up their cars.

Aodhan O’Donnell of the Consumer Council said the difference in petrol costs across the province was “disappointing”.

“Consumers should pay the same price for their petrol and diesel no matter which supermarket they fill up at,” he said.

“Although reducing the fuel duty by one penny was never going to have a great impact on the cost of filling up, it is a step in the right direction.

“It is disappointing therefore to see that consumers haven’t felt the full benefit of this reduction.”

The news comes just a week after Chancellor George Osborne announced the nationwide cut.

Since the Budget took effect, the average price for petrol fell by 0.75 pence per litre for unleaded and 0.5 pence per litre for diesel across Northern Ireland.

Mr O’Donnell said independent traders were falling “way short” of passing on the cuts at their pumps.

“Whilst the large supermarkets are passing on almost the full one pence reduction, the Consumer Council calls on independent retailers to help motorists by passing on the full saving,” he said.

Glyn Roberts, chairman of the Northern Ireland Independent Retail Trade Association, said traders were struggling to match supermarket prices.

“It has always been difficult for independent forecourts to compete with the supermarkets, which can sell fuel much cheaper,” he said.

“They will always want to remain competitive but the margins for independent retailers have always been very small.

“Forecourts especially don’t make a huge profit on petrol — it’s more of a footfall driver for them.”

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