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'Oi, David Cameron, sort out petrol prices!'

Jamie Stinson
MSE News Reporter
3 December 2012

Oi, David Cameron, it's time to sort out petrol prices! That's the top consumer issue people would tell the Prime Minister to address, according to a poll of over 13,000 MoneySavingExpert.com users.

We asked which of 10 hot topics they most wanted Cameron (right) to tackle, allowing them to pick up to three.

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A mammoth 68% listed high petrol prices, followed by rising gas and electricity prices bills (60%) and low savings rates (38%).

The news comes on the day the AA has urged Chancellor George Osborne to postpone the 3p-a-litre fuel duty rise planned for January.

The Government has already announced plans to force energy firms to put consumers on their cheapest tariff, while a watchdog is investigating high fuel bills. But many want more action.

Here are the results of the poll which closed last week.

The 'Oi, Cameron, sort it out' poll
Issues % who want it sorted
Petrol prices – too high
68%
Gas and electricity bills – unaffordable for many
60%
Savings rates – dismally low
38%
Train fares – too expensive and complex
20%
Financial education – put it on the curriculum
18%
Payday loans – need strong regulation
18%
Mortgages – too difficult to get
16%
Childcare – high costs and lack of availability
12%
Car insurance – unaffordable for young drivers
12%
Spam texts – need to be stopped
7%
13,400 people voted. They could pick up to three issues each.

Martin Lewis, MoneySavingExpert.com founder, says: "Petrol prices continue to dominate the consumer landscape. While the government often blames the suppliers, the truth is that about 60% of the cost goes in tax. While other bills may be bigger, petrol prices hit at the heart of a feeling of independence.

"Next is the other victim of the worldwide hike in oil prices, energy bills. Recent continued rises are leading to more people in fuel poverty than ever before — many choosing between heating and eating.

"The public perception is that so far, politicians and regulators have failed to get a grip on it. It will be interesting to see if the proposed energy bill can make a difference.

"Then there is the quiet army of savers starting to roar. Often forgotten, they sit in front of the TV throwing socks when politicians celebrate historic interest rate lows.

"Many who have worked hard and saved hope to live off the income, yet that has been kiboshed by low rates and little tax advantage."

Petrol jumps

The price of filling up a car has risen over the past few years, with unleaded prices up by 38% between June 2007 and June 2012, and diesel prices by 43% over the same period.

Costs have since fallen, but where wholesale prices have collapsed by the equivalent of 10p a litre, average pump prices have dropped by only 4p a litre, the AA says.

The average unleaded price was 133.71p last week, while diesel was 141.31p, according to comparison website PetrolPrices.com. See the Cheap Petrol guide.

The Office of Fair Trading announced in September it would investigate prices at the pumps to determine whether motorists are getting a fair deal.

Unaffordable energy prices

Gas and electricity prices are also on the rise. In recent weeks five of the big six energy providers have announced hikes of up to 11%.

The Government recently announced it will force all suppliers to move customers to a new deal, if it's cheaper than what they're currently paying (see the Energy plan unveiled MSE News story).

Dismal savings rates

Savings rates are also high on consumers' agendas, with many suffering poor returns following a major decline in interest rates in recent months. However, it's not as though rates were particularly high beforehand — the Bank of England base rate has been at an historic low of 0.5% since March 2009.

The average easy access saving rate is 0.27%. In August 2008, it was 2.31%.

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