Record number of consumers fear increasing fuel prices

Ahead of the House of Commons fuel debate on Monday, Which? says that the planned 3p fuel duty rise in January could be the last straw for  struggling households, undermining the fragile economic recovery.

Fuel prices are now the number one consumer worry, and Which? research shows that over the last three months, a record number of consumers have been concerned about fuel and car costs: 

  • Since July fears about rising fuel prices have risen by 9 percentage points to a record 85%, while the number of those saying they would cut back on car running costs rose by 7 percentage points (to 39%) – the highest figure Which? has ever recorded; and
  • One in ten people used their savings to pay for car costs in September.

Overall household budgets are under huge strain. Which? research found one in three people are finding it difficult to live on their current income.  A third (33%) also cut back spending on the essentials last month, up from 25% in September, while 44% are planning to cut back on groceries and food in the next few months.

The planned rise would hit struggling households at a time when they can least afford it. Which?’s Monthly Consumer Tracker* found 8.7 million households curbed their spending on essentials last month, while 6.4 million households dipped into their savings to cover their expenditure.

Consumer confidence is at rock bottom. Which? believes that the Government must act to give consumers confidence that everything possible is being done to keep prices in check and give people value for money if we are to see the consumer spending recovery that is so essential to the nation’s economic well-being.

Which? executive director Richard Lloyd said:

“Rising fuel prices are now the number one consumer worry and people are already telling us they’re having to cut back and dip into savings, just to get by.  On the back of inflation-busting energy bill rises and increasing food prices, consumers can’t afford another hit on their household budget.

“Like many business leaders, we’re calling on the Government think again about their plans to increase fuel duty in January. The forthcoming Autumn statement must focus on measures that will help put money back in the pockets of consumers, because the economic recovery is at risk if we don’t increase in consumer confidence.”

Andy Clarke, Asda’s president and CEO said:

“A 3ppl tax in January will come at the worst possible time for UK families who will already be feeling the cost of Christmas and energy price rises. We will continue to do everything we can to keep fuel prices low, and have led the way by dropping them across the UK by up to 6ppl in the last month alone to keep the money in our customers’ pockets.”

Consumers struggling with the rising cost of fuel can use the Which? guide to reducing spending on fuel. Tips include:

  • Websites that can help you find the cheapest fuel
  • Where to find special offers and cheap fuel deals
  • Simple tips from Which? Car experts’ on how to use less fuel
  • And how to calculate your car’s fuel economy


*Populus, on behalf of Which?, interviewed 2,100 UK adults online between 26th and28th October 2012. Data were weighted to be demographically representative of all UK adults. Populus is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.




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