‘Our study shows the real impact of record pump prices,' said AA president Edmund King. ‘The full impact of higher VAT, unbridled market speculation and a weaker pound on fuel prices and drivers' ability to afford them have been laid bare.'
Compared with the same period in 2008, service stations saw a 15.2 per cent dip in petrol sales and a six per cent fall in diesel in the three months to March.
That equates to a £637.8million hit to the treasury in lost taxes.
Last month, a litre of unleaded petrol stood at a record high of 136.1p, diesel 139.9p and super unleaded at 143.4p.
To fill up a 50l tank of fuel with ordinary unleaded petrol now costs £68.
An estimated 1.3million motorists have given up driving in the past year because of rising costs.
But with the average annual fuel bill now £1,720 – a 22.9 per cent year-on-year increase – there could be some good news for hard-pressed drivers. ‘Supermarkets have launched a sustained campaign of fuel-related promotions and, combined with a loss of appetite among oil market speculators leading to falling oil prices, the next quarter's figures will be significant,' added Mr King.
Robert Halfon MP, who set up the all parliamentary group on fuel costs, said ministers should cut fuel tax and freeze a rise in January. ‘Fuel tax is crucifying motorists,' he said.