Don’t be fueled by petrol prices

While performing the most mundane of tasks the other day - sticking petrol in the motor - I experienced a strange sensation.

Thursday, 5th February 2015, 4:36 pm
JPCT 230414 S14171030x Blaise Tapp -photo by Steve Cobb SUS-140423-130729001

For the first time in I didn’t know how long (I later discovered it was six years) the litres’ gauge on the pump was almost, but not quite, in synch with the price display.

It was a moment of fleeting joy which lasted only until I remembered that I was already late for a meeting but the occurrence was a significant one nonetheless as in my neck of the woods we are a matter of pence away from paying a quid for a litre of petrol.

Last time fuel was cheaper was in 2009 when Gordon Brown was still popular and no-one had heard of TOWIE.

In the past month alone the price of petrol has tumbled by at least 15p a litre and all of a sudden we appear to be a nation of happy motorists, but could petrol get any cheaper? Key to the reduction in fuel prices is the dramatic recent decline of oil prices which have gone from $115 a barrel to well under $50.

In real terms the cost of liquid gold has plummeted by nearly 60 per cent but motorists have seen a reduction in fuel prices of only 50 per cent with the petrol giants slow to pass on the full saving.

There will be some who will say we should be grateful for the reduction we have received and that we should remember that less than three years ago the average cost of a litre was around the £1.40 mark.

There are experts who predict that petrol could get as low as 85p, a price we last enjoyed in 2007, which coincidentally was the last time many of us enjoyed a significant annual pay rise.

Since the financial crisis rocked our world nearly eight years ago we have become a nation of soft touches who happily accept their lot. Many don’t demand pay hikes because we feel lucky to have a job and those in the boardroom have cottoned on to that and exploited it to the hilt.

And even after recent reductions it still costs more than ever to heat homes but the complaints are muted. We just get on with it.

It is unlikely that we will ever again see a significant fuel protest like the farmer-led ones which caused chaos in 2000 when prices reached a then all-time high of 80p a litre. Despite the steady increase in prices in the intervening years - the majority of it made up of fuel duty and VAT - there has been no real clamour for another uprising of tractor and Mondeo drivers. It seems that the fire has gone out of our bellies and we are grateful for whatever crumbs are thrown in our general direction.

As long as this hopeless apathy persists then big business will keep on having the last laugh.