The soaring cost of driving in the UK is forcing people to scrimp on food and heating, as turmoil in energy markets puts petrol prices on course to hit a new milestone of 160p a litre.
Simon Williams, the RAC’s fuel spokesperson, said the speed at which fuel prices are rising means petrol is on a “rapid journey towards 160p a litre and diesel to 165p”.
“Given the speed of increases, drivers could unfortunately see this by the end of the week. As these are averages, far higher prices will be appearing on forecourt totems up and down the country.”
The petrol price is linked to global oil prices which have jumped on the back of the war in Ukraine. The price of Brent crude is now above $130 a barrel, having hit $100 a barrel for the first time since 2014 when Russia began its assault.
We spoke to readers about how the higher price of petrol and diesel is affecting their lives.
Steve Bowater, NHS delivery driver, Sheffield
Bowater drives roughly 1,000 miles a month to and from work and says the high cost of fuel is forcing him to make big changes, including cutting meat from his diet and keeping the heating turned off.
“I used to put £24 or £25 [of diesel] in a week and it’s gone up to about £36,” the 52-year-old said. He considered getting a train instead but the journey cost even more, at “£20-odd pounds a day”, and took a lot longer at an hour and 40 minutes, compared with a half-hour drive.
“Normally I’ll buy things like beef or chicken or pork – I’ve had to cut it all out, I’m not having meat at all,” he said. “It’s not healthy food that I’m swapping it for, it’s all carbohydrates, which is no good.
“I live on my own – I can go without putting the heating on but can’t go without diesel. If I have visitors over, I’ll put it on for them if it’s cold out. I’ve never ever had to do anything like this in my life.”
If the price of fuel keeps rising, as some analysts predict it will, Bowater said he may have to think about getting a second job to boost his income.
Gareth White, incident liaison officer, Perthshire
White, who lives with his partner and four children in a rural village, said higher fuel costs meant his family had to drop extracurricular activities for their two autistic children. Between commutes, the school run and supermarket trips, he and his wife drive 300 miles a week.
“Every day I drive past, it’s gone up another penny,” he says. The couple, who own two cars – one diesel, one petrol – used to spend £30 a month on petrol “but now it’s £40”. The amount spent on diesel has jumped from £30-£40 a week to £50.
“The kids’ clubs and activities have been cut because we just can’t afford to get them there any more,” he said. Using public transport is not an option because his children cannot cope with the crowds and noise.
“We don’t go away,” he said of lifestyle changes the family has had to make. “We used to go through to Glasgow to visit my granny. We can’t do that any more because we just can’t afford to take the car out.”
Anonymous, IT worker, West Midlands
The reader, who withheld his name, used to see friends every week but has now reduced that to “once a month or so” to save money on fuel; however, the reduced social contact has left him feeling isolated.
“I feel that my mental health is gradually deteriorating as I’m constantly having to think about nearly every single trip I’m making in my car,” he said. “I used to visit my friends at least twice a week and now I’m only seeing them once a month or so.”
The 44-year-old has also cut down on shopping trips in an effort to save money at a time when his energy bills are also going up.
“I’m feeling the squeeze in living standards already and it’s only going to get worse come April [when national insurance contributions increase].”