Belfast Telegraph

£6 a gallon petrol 'will crush businesses'

The average price of petrol in the UK has pushed through the £6 per gallon barrier for the first time ever, according to the AA.

Soaring oil costs have been blamed for pump prices of 132.12p per litre for petrol, while the average price of diesel also hit a new record at 137.92p.

The new statistics provided by the industry watchdog show the cost of petrol has risen 6.93p a litre (£3.47 a tank) since the start of the year, and 1.68p a litre in the past week.

In Northern Ireland, where fuel prices are traditionally higher than elsewhere in the UK, motorists are being warned to brace themselves for further misery.

And there are fears the seemingly incessant hikes will eventually threaten businesses and livelihoods across the length and breadth of the country.

AA president Edmund King warned that the situation could become unsustainable for many motorists.

“Six pounds a gallon is not just another milestone along the road to higher fuel prices, it marks the point at which the wheels start to come off mobility,” said Mr King.

Lower-income drivers, poorer rural residents, volunteer drivers and young people looking for their first jobs are some of the vulnerable groups struggling to stay on the road.

“Over the past two years the AA has warned that unbridled speculation in the oil markets and a constant drip of fuel tax rises would haemorrhage family finances to the point that it would damage the local and wider economy,” said Mr King.

“Middle East troubles have brought matters to a head, but the writing’s been on the wall for months and only now are Government and business |analysts taking notice.”

He added: “Government must act urgently to reduce the burden of high fuel duty and VAT.

“In the meantime, drivers are going to have to manage as best as they can, by cutting out journeys, driving more economically and hoping that a stronger pound will cushion some of the blow.

“But these high prices are already leaving casualties among drivers, consumers and businesses.”

A year ago a litre of petrol on average cost 114.30p and diesel 115.31p.

For a family with two petrol cars, the monthly cost of fuel has risen from £242.70 in March 2010 to £280.54, siphoning off £37.84 per month more from the family budget.

In the same period, the price of |oil has risen from around $85 a barrel to $113.

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