Sainsbury"s to spark supermarket petrol price war by cutting unleaded by 4p and diesel by 3p from today

Sainsbury's to spark supermarket petrol price war by cutting unleaded by 4p and diesel by 3p from todayOther retailers will follow suit as many struggle to afford to run a carIt comes after months of rises with 5p alone added in the past monthChancellor being urged to scrap 3p-a-litre fuel duty rise in upcoming budget

By
Martin Robinson

PUBLISHED:

16:04 GMT, 12 March 2013

|

UPDATED:

03:42 GMT, 13 March 2013

Sainsbury's may have sparked a supermarket petrol price war today by dropping its fuel prices likely forcing other retailers likely to follow suit.

From today, the cost of petrol at its 279 forecourts across the UK will dip by 4p a litre, with diesel being reduced by 3p a litre.

Sainsbury's head of fuel Richard Crampton said: 'We know that fuel is a big part of many customers' weekly budget so we're keen to do anything we can to help.'

Price battle: Sainsbury's has announced it will cut the price of fuel from tomorrow, with other retailers likely to follow suit

Price battle: Sainsbury's has cut the cost of fuel from today, with other retailers likely to follow suit

The move is likely to spark a similar response from its rivals as latest petrol price figures show the cost of filling up is continuing to put the squeeze on motorists, going up by another 5p a litre in February alone.

This increase added 2.50 to the cost of a typical 50-litre refill, or 3.50 to fill up a Ford Mondeo.

A family with two petrol cars is now spending 10.62 a month more on fuel than at the beginning of the year.

Average UK petrol prices stand at
around 137,08p a litre, following a surge that started in the second
week of January when the price was 132.01p.

Since the start of 2013, diesel pump prices have increased from around 140p a litre to 143.96p.

In January motoring groups accused the Office of
Fair Trading of ‘a whitewash’ yesterday after the watchdog ruled out a
full inquiry into petrol prices.

The OFT, which launched a probe last year, claimed there was no evidence drivers were being ripped off.

For years motorists have complained that pump prices soar when the price of crude oil rises, but fail to drop if it then falls.

On the rise: The graph shows how prices had dropped in recent months - but have jumped again in February

On the rise: The graph shows how prices had dropped in the final months of 2912 but have jumped again in January and February

The Office of Fair Trading said sharp rises in fuel prices was cause by increases in tax and not price-fixing by oil companies

Whitewash The Office of Fair Trading said sharp rises in fuel prices was caused by increases in tax and not price-fixing by oil companies

George Osborne is coming under mounting pressure to order a fuel duty freeze in this month’s Budget, as experts warned prices were spiralling out of control.

Pressure: George Osborne is being advised to freeze duty on fuel as experts warn prices are going to soar.

Pressure: George Osborne is being advised to freeze duty on fuel as experts warn prices are going to soar

Tory MPs are urging the Chancellor to cancel a 3p-a-litre rise in fuel duty planned for September.

Motoring organisations warned that families could not take much more, following a 6p rise in fuel prices since the start of the year.

Conservative MP Robert Halfon has dubbed fuel duty a ‘toxic tax’ and said action to bring it under control was now more important than raising the income tax threshold, which has been the Coalition’s top tax priority.

‘This Government has
done more than almost any other in recent times to reduce the cost of
fuel but we need to go further… in the long term, when the financial
conditions allow, to actually cut fuel duty,' he said.

‘When
fuel duty goes up it’s not just a tax on fuel because food prices go
up, bus prices go up, it crushes businesses, it crushes families, it’s a
disincentive to work because people can’t afford to drive to work.’

Last week it emerged that the poorest car owners are being forced to shell out more than a quarter of their ready cash to keep a vehicle on the road.

Typically, a poor household will spend 44 a week on motoring expenses out of a total seven-day budget of 167, according to the RAC Foundation. Of this, a total of 16 is used to buy petrol or diesel and 8.30 goes on insurance.

This means the most hard-up 10 per cent of car-owning households are having to put at least 27 per cent of their disposable income towards owning and running a vehicle.

Rising costs: The average 5p a litre increase adds 2.50 to the cost of a typical 50-litre refill

Rising costs: The average 5p a litre increase in February added 2.50 to the cost of a typical 50-litre refill

By contrast, motoring costs only represent about 12 per cent of the disposable income of the wealthiest car-owning households.

RAC Foundation director Stephen Glaister said: 'These figures should shock Chancellor George Osborne, with some households mired in transport poverty.

'We already knew transport was the single biggest area of household expenditure bar none. But this spending breakdown just for car-owning households is not normally available. It lays bare the truth about the extent of transport poverty in the UK.'