The Daily Mail’s front-page story today is this: ‘After Osborne’s bid to help drivers… GREEDY GARAGES DEFY THE PETROL PRICE CUT’. It starts:
DRIVERS condemned greedy garages last night for failing to pass on the Chancellor’s cut in fuel duty.
If the Daily Mail had looked into the matter – by which I mean spent just a couple of minutes thinking about it – they would probably have come across the words of Brian Madderson, the chairman of the RMI Independent Petrol Retailers, who pointed out that:
“It seems that the chancellor and the Treasury are unaware that 6,000 independent retailers across the country buy their fuel on duty paid basis from the terminal.”
“That means that old stocks off have to sold off before the duty reduction can come into force.”
As for the claims that many garages put up prices before the budget to negate any real decrease in their prices, I’m sure most drivers will agree that 1p plus rises have been occurring frequently since the start of the year, it’s hardly a conspiracy that they should also be raised this week. As an AA spokesman (normally critical of petrol retailers not passing on lower prices to customers) said:
“My view is there may be a few mavericks out there. But I don’t think there is evidence that there has been large scale fiddling.”
Still, the mass of public perception referred to as ‘DRIVERS’ is front-page news just because they think that all garages are greedy, that the forecourt price cut should have happened at 6pm on the day of the budget even though the garages would not have even had a chance to buy fuel duty-paid at the new ‘low’ price.
It’s a very silly front-page story indeed and one that kind of misses the point: the price of diesel and petrol is forcing people to give up commuting in their cars and a 1p cut in fuel duty is not going to make any difference to those suffering genuine fuel poverty. The real story is that thanks to a chronic lack on investment – caused by consistent government short-sightedness (only concerned with being re-elected) the public transport system is simply not able to cope with rising demand.
Congested, noisy, diesel-hungry trains and buses often reduced to standing-room only added to the fact that it is often surprisingly expensive to use public transport and it can add hours to your working day – that should be the real story here. That every time any kind of revolution in public transport is put forward it is shot down as being ‘too expensive’ so we end up with often prohibitively expensive personal transport options and an expensive, poor public alternative.