Kwasi Kwarteng, the UK’s business secretary, has asked the Competition & Markets Authority (CMA) to conduct an urgent investigation into petrol station operators following concerns that retailers have not passed on the recent cut in fuel duty to consumers.
In a letter to the UK’s competition watchdog, Mr Kwarteng wrote that people were “rightly frustrated” that the 5p-a-litre decrease in duty had not prevented prices from climbing to record levels at forecourts.
Kwarteng requested that the CMA conduct an urgent review of the fuel market, including regional price differences and a longer-term study of the industry’s competition to see if it has harmed consumer interests amid rising costs.
He has asked for an initial report of recommendations from the CMA by 7 July to “strengthen competition” in the sector.
The review comes as the average price of a litre of petrol at UK forecourts increased by 7p last week, reaching a new high of 183.2p on Thursday.
Retailers have blamed surging wholesale prices, saying oil refineries had not passed on a fall in the price of crude oil since the highs during the early days of the war in Ukraine.
Rising petrol prices have also led to an increase in crime, with forecourts facing up to three attempted thefts a day on average as a growing number of drivers are trying to drive off without paying.