Drivers on lower incomes ‘unfairly missing out on fuel price savings’

Supermarkets are discriminating against poorer motorists by only passing on fuel price savings to shoppers who spend at least £40 in-store, a motoring association has claimed.

An AA survey of nearly 18,000 drivers indicated that more than one in five (22%) of those in the lowest socio-economic group are “very unlikely” to spend that amount in a single supermarket trip.

This is compared with 10% in the highest group.

Supermarket fuel vouchers offered by Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons this year either offered 5p off per litre with a £40 in-store spend or 10p off with a £60 spend.

Some 38% of those polled said they “feel manipulated” by fuel savings tied to supermarket spending, while 29% disagreed with that statement.

Almost three in four (73%) believed the Government should set a maximum length of time for fuel retailers to cut pump prices when wholesale costs drop.

AA fuel price spokesman Luke Bosdet said the use of vouchers to pass on a fall in wholesale costs “excludes some groups of drivers”.

He went on: “This year has seen a pattern when wholesale costs fall, of supermarket customers at three out of the big four being offered money off fuel if they spend in-store first.

“Those supermarkets have then waited for Asda to make the first move in a pump price skirmish before dropping prices on their forecourts.

“It has to be accepted that a large number of shoppers with cars welcome these vouchers. And, with one in 10 tempted to buy more to qualify, they are a powerful marketing tool.

“However, they discriminate against lower-spending and less well-off consumers. They also delay price competition at the pumps and reinforce drivers’ suspicions that they are being played.”

Last month the RAC claimed the failure of fuel retailers to pass on wholesale cost savings meant they were overcharging drivers by more than 5p per litre for petrol and more than 4p for diesel.

Latest Government figures show the average price of a litre of fuel at UK forecourts stands at £1.25 for petrol and £1.30 for diesel.

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