Fuel prices in Northern Ireland are higher than anywhere else in the UK, it has emerged.
The January AA Fuel Price Report shows that both petrol and diesel sustained a bigger monthly hike than any other UK region.
Motorists here are now paying 129.1 pence per litre (ppl) on average for petrol, up 6.5p since December. Diesel has risen by 7p a litre in a month, with drivers now forking out an average price of 133.5ppl.
AA president Edmund King said that hundreds of motorists can no longer afford to run a car.
“The huge fall in petrol sales shows that many drivers cannot afford to fill up,” said Mr King.
“Unless the Government can restore a more affordable level of fuel prices, by scrapping the fuel duty increase in April and bringing in a fuel price stabiliser, the falling tax return from constantly rising prices will reduce the income to the Treasury.
“Sooner or later politicians will have to face reality — more and more drivers cannot afford these prices, they are pushing up inflation and taking money from other consumer spending.”
UK petrol prices ended the first decade of the 21st century with their biggest monthly leap — up by a staggering 6.13p a litre or £3.07 a tank, according to the AA.
With retail petrol sales for the first nine months of 2010 down nearly 13% compared to before the credit crunch, the affordability of driving stands out as the question for the next 10 years.
Between mid-December and mid-January, UK average petrol prices rose from 122.14p a litre to a new record of 128.27. Diesel went up 6.56ppl, from 126.19ppl last month to 132.75 now.
The previous highest monthly petrol price increase since 2000 was 5.6p a litre in June 2008.
In May 2008 monthly diesel prices in the UK soared 6.8p a litre, leading to the 133.25p record in July 2008, which still stands — just. A 0.76p a litre rise in fuel duty on January 1 and a VAT rise to 20% added some 2.5p more to the pump price, accounted for the lion’s share of the latest increase.
But an increase of around 5% in wholesale costs, driven by oil prices surging past $90 (£57) a barrel, have ensured that every day has been a record for petrol prices since December 10, 2010.
Compared to a year ago, petrol now costs 16.3p a litre more and diesel 18.98p. Filling a typical 50-litre fuel tank has risen £8.15 for petrol and £9.49 for diesel.
For a two-car family, the monthly cost of petrol rose by £34.61.
Petrol is a battleground for supermarkets with Sainsbury on average within a penny of Asda, the cheapest retailer.