Consumers facing record fuel prices 'hammer blow'

A view of high fuel prices at a Shell fuel station, as oil prices jumped following Russia's invasion

A view of high fuel prices at a Shell fuel station, as oil prices jumped following Russia's invasion of Ukraine. - Credit: PA

Record fuel prices will be a ‘hammer blow’ to rural residents already facing rising food and energy bills, debt charities have warned. 

Average UK petrol costs have exceeded £1.51 per litre for the first time, according to figures from data firm Experian Catalist. 

The typical price of a litre of petrol was 150.65p on Saturday and 151.25p on Sunday, while diesel was also at a record high, reaching 154.69p on Saturday and 154.72p on Sunday. 

Russia's invasion of Ukraine led to oil prices reaching an eight-year high last week due to concerns over the reliability of supplies. 

Patrick Roberts, advice session supervisor at Citizens Advice Mid Suffolk, said communities in Suffolk would be hit particularly hard because of the county’s rural nature which meant residents relied on their cars, especially in areas without a bus service. 

He added: “The increase in fuel prices is just another hammer blow for those already suffering from rural poverty and with prices going up everywhere, particularly with food costs going up higher than the rate of inflation.” 

Rev Nic Stuchfield, chair of Suffolk Coastal Debt Centre, which helps people work their way out of debt, said ordinarily motorists would be able to cope with the rising fuel cost, but in the current situation it was "another straw to the camel’s back".

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He said: “The price of petrol is more significant in terms of people’s cost of living than it would be in an urban area because people have to drive longer distances to work and do anything really, so petrol costs are probably a higher proportion of rural incomes than urban incomes.” 

Higher food prices, higher interest rates and increased taxation were additional burdens that people were having to face, he added. 

“It is not going to make people’s finances any easier and if you keep putting straw on top of the camel’s back, then sooner or later you reach the maximum sustainable burden. It becomes the straw that breaks the camel’s back,” Rev Stuchfield said. 

Paul Simon, head of public affairs and strategic communications at Suffolk Chamber of Commerce, called for the Government to extend temporary VAT reductions and delay forthcoming National Insurance rises to ease the burden on businesses. 

He said Suffolk businesses were also being squeezed by extra costs, including on raw materials and supplies. 

He predicted that price rises in April would exceed the 7% peak forecast by the Bank of England due to the Ukraine conflict, the reversal of the hospitality VAT cut and the energy price cap rise. 

“In short, Suffolk businesses, only just recovering from the horrors of the COVID19 pandemic, need more time to adapt to the wider turbulence in events beyond their control,” he added. 

Paul Simon, head of public affairs and strategic communications at Suffolk Chamber of Commerce

Paul Simon, head of public affairs and strategic communications at Suffolk Chamber of Commerce - Credit: SUFFOLK CHAMBER OF COMMERCE

To contact Citizens Advice, visit https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk or call 0808 278 7868. 

To contact the Suffolk Coastal Debt Centre, email Laura Knight at lauraknight@capuk.org or call CAP on 0800 328 0006.