Belfast Telegraph

Enjoy low prices while they last... fuel hikes on way

By CLAIRE MCNEILLY

Motorists and householders in Northern Ireland are to be hit by rising fuel costs over the next few months.

Although petrol and diesel prices have slumped to their lowest levels since the 2008 credit crunch, drivers here are still paying more for unleaded than any other UK region. The AA has also warned that the dip in fuel prices is unlikely to fall further – or last too long.

Meanwhile, home heating oil users, which account for almost 70% of households here, are bracing themselves for what has become a traditional winter price hike.

It means that home-owners, who are already feeling the pinch following recent hikes in the cost of electricity and gas earlier this year, are gearing up for another winter of discontent.

Interim chief executive of the Consumer Council, Aodhan O'Donnell, said the coming months could be extremely difficult. Northern Ireland is the most expensive region for petrol at 132.9p per litre – despite seeing the biggest fall over the past month.

Currently islanders off the coast of Scotland and in the Isles of Scilly get a 5p discount because of the cost of transporting fuel there means prices are much higher.

The Treasury had said it was keen to identify areas where prices were consistently similar to those on the islands – which would include all of Northern Ireland.

Local fuel retailers in 16 districts were asked to send information on costs so the Government could obtain permission from the European Commission to extend the existing fuel rebate scheme to various parts of the UK.

However, in the end, Danny Alexander, chief secretary to the Treasury, didn't include any local locations on his chosen list of 10 for submission.

FACTFILE

The Consumer Council has urged consumers to look at some of the resources it produces which can help them keep more money in their pockets. "Our 'Thinking about borrowing money' leaflet could help," said interim chief executive, Aodhan O'Donnell.

Get a free copy at 0800 121 6022 or via email info@con sumercouncil.org.uk.

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