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Plans designed to reduce petrol prices on the motorway

Plans designed to reduce petrol prices at motorway service stations and a freeze on the cost of the MoT test have been announced by the Government.

A crackdown on whiplash injury fraud is also part of the driver-friendly package to be introduced from next year.

Plans designed to reduce petrol prices at motorway service stations have been announced by the Government. Credit: PA Wire

Justice Secretary Chris Grayling said the statutory maximum price of the MoT test for a car will be frozen at £54.85 until 2015 - potentially saving up to £50 million for drivers every year.

He said new comparison road signs will be trialled which will show prices at different service stations along a route, making it easier for drivers to get the cheapest deal and encouraging competition on prices.

Union: Two thirds of British workers commute by car

Commuters pictured on the M1 motorway. Credit: PA

Most people travel to work by car, showing how hard household budgets have been hit by rising fuel costs, according to a new report.

A study by the GMB union showed that two thirds of workers in England and Wales travelled by car, as a driver or passenger, almost 20% by public transport and one in 10 walked.

Separate figures for Northern Ireland showed that over four out of five people used a motor vehicle to get to work.

The GMB report, published ahead of the union's annual conference in Plymouth tomorrow, noted that the price of unleaded petrol and diesel had almost doubled over the past decade.

General secretary Paul Kenny said: "These figures demonstrate why the massive hike in the price of fuel and of public transport has hit workers very hard. It is no wonder household budgets have taken a hammering."

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Petrol and diesel consumption 'dropped by a fifth'

Petrol and diesel consumption has dropped by a fifth since the start of the credit crunch, according to a new analysis by the Office of National Statistics.

The analysis shows households are struggling to cope with the near doubling of vehicle fuel prices in the past decade.

Spending on vehicle fuel per head per quarter increased from £84 to £130 from 2002 to 2008. Since then average spends have dipped, despite rising petrol prices, falling to a low of £103 in 2009.

ONS figures showed that the quantity of petrol purchased has fallen 18 per cent since 2007.

Petrol and diesel consumption has dropped by a fifth. Credit: Andrey Kholmov/Photas/Tass/Press Association Images

Andrew Pendleton, head of campaigns at Friends of the Earth said fuel efficiency and the economic crisis could not explain the long term decline in car journeys or a growing lack of appeal that motor vehicles held for young people.

He said: “There is strong and building evidence that car use has peaked not just in the UK but the US, France, Germany and other developed nations.

"The decline is most marked in younger people whose status is defined by different sorts of technology. They want iPads and iPhones rather than a car."

Mr Pendleton made the comments while speaking to The Independent.

Before tax UK fuel 'some of the cheapest in Europe'

It is not the greedy petrol stations but the insatiable appetite for tax of Governments, past and present, that has been blamed for the high cost of filling up at the pumps. But the authorities also blamed the cost of crude oil, much of it produced by the companies that own the filling stations.

The Office of Fair Trading investigated the petrol industry, and found that before tax, fuel here is amongst the cheapest in Europe.

Yet, once duties are included, motorists here pay more than almost anywhere else.

ITV News Business Editor Laura Kuenssberg reports:

PRA: OFT fuel report missed 'prime opportunity'

The Petrol Retailers Association, that represents independent forecourt retailers in the UK, has criticised the Office of Fair Trading's decision to not proceed with a full market study into the UK retail fuels sector.

This was a prime opportunity, supported by considerable new information from our retailers, to tackle market manipulation of UK wholesale prices and retail prices by the big players.

The establishment has once again turned a blind eye to the need for a full Market Study which would have unmasked the market manipulators, provided proper transparency and helped our economic recovery.

How can the OFT, supported by Government, try and tell motorists and businesses that the market is working in the consumer’s interests?

– PRA Chairman Brian Madderson

FairFuelUK: OFT report 'massive disappointment'

Campaign group FairFuelUK has tweeted:

Cutfuelduty_normal

How can this be fair? Fairfueluk’s Massive Disappointment in OFT Findings and Recommendations .... http://t.co/PlD3dti0

Cutfuelduty_normal

@fairfueluk supplied evidence to #OFT from FFUK supporters.Seems 2have been ignored. We'll continue 2fight for significant lower pump prices

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AA: 'We're disappointed in OFT's report'

Edmund King, President of the Automobile Association, has said he is "disappointed" with the Office of Fair Trading's finding that the fuel market is "working well".

Edmund King, President of the Automobile Association
Edmund King, President of the Automobile Association Credit: ITV News

He told ITV News:

"We're disappointed in this report, yes we know there's competition in the market, there's bound to be with four big supermarkets.

"But what there isn't is transparency on prices and this is what motorists get fed up about.

"A simple thing they could have recommended is that the wholesale price has to be published alongside the retail price and then drivers can make up their own mind whether they're getting a fair price at the pumps."

Read Business Editor Laura Kuenssberg's analysis of the report into fuel prices

OFT recognise 'widespread mistrust' in fuel market

We recognise that there has been widespread mistrust in how this market is operating.

However, our analysis suggests that competition is working well, and rises in pump prices over the past decade or so have largely been down to increases in tax and the cost of crude oil.

Our call for information has not identified any evidence of anti-competitive behaviour in the fuel market at a national level, where competition appears to be strong.

There may be some issues at a local level. Where we receive evidence of potential anti-competitive behaviour we will consider taking action. For example, we have recently opened an investigation into the supply of road fuel in the Western Isles of Scotland.

– OFT chief executive Clive Maxwell

Dept for Energy considering response to fuel prices report

The Prime Minister's official spokesperson was asked whether the PM was disappointed at the Office of Fair Trading's report into fuel prices.

She said it was for the OFT to look at the issue, adding that they have made it clear that if there is further evidence of alleged price fixing, they will look into it and take action.

But for now, the Department of Energy and Climate Change is considering its response to the OFT's report.

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