Rising fuel prices will force 4 in 10 to cut other household spending

Survey finds motorists having to ditch the car or cut costs elsewhere as petrol and diesel bills continue to climb

Almost half of motorists fear they will have to cut back on spending elsewhere in order to keep their cars fuelled as petrol and diesel prices continue to soar.

As diesel broke the £1.50 per litre barrier and petrol remained at record-high levels, 46% of drivers questioned by the RAC said they would be forced to cut household spending as a result of the increases.

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A third of those polled by the motoring body said they were already driving less due to the rising costs at the pumps and a further quarter said they would be forced to do the same if prices continue to rise.

The RAC’s fuel spokesman Simon Williams said the continued increases at the pumps were having a “chilling” impact on households who relied on their cars and warned that worse could still be to come.

While just under a fifth of drivers questioned said they could turn to other means of transport such as cycling or walking, almost half (44%) said they were reliant on their car and would have to suffer the higher running costs.

Fuel prices have risen every month since the start of the year and after reaching record breaking levels in October have continued to climb. According to the latest RAC Fuel Watch data, petrol is now 146.6p per litre and diesel is 150.24p.

Mr Williams said: “There’s seemingly no end in sight – the price of unleaded is already up by more than 2p in November and this, combined with the fact domestic energy costs are also spiking, means households need to brace themselves for what could turn out to be a particularly expensive winter.

“If the high prices are encouraging drivers to swap the car for walking or cycling on short trips that’s no bad thing, but the simple fact remains that the car is a lifeline for many people and remains the only feasible way for them to complete so many of the journeys they need to make.”

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The survey found that the current cost of fuel was encouraging drivers to consider a move to an electric vehicle, with a third saying they would switch to a EV immediately if they could afford it, and a fifth believing the high fuel costs will act as a catalyst for getting more drivers to go electric.

It also found most drivers (70%) were keen for the Government to intervene to bring down forecourt costs. Three-quarters wanted to see a cut in fuel duty while more than half (58%) backed the suggestion of a price cap similar to that on domestic energy and half supported a cut in VAT on fuel.

Mr Williams added: “The Chancellor had the perfect opportunity last month to show his support for drivers who are struggling with the increasing fuel prices by temporarily cutting VAT on motor fuel or reducing fuel duty. We’re disappointed he chose to do neither, but a commitment to freeze fuel duty for another year was at least some consolation. However, we fear that rocketing prices risk storing up all kinds of problems for drivers as we go into the winter.”

Fuel prices have been pushed up by soaring wholesale costs of oil and of biofuels, which make up part of modern petrol and diesel, as well as the weakness of the pound on international markets.