Grant Shapps is to hold showdown talks with supermarket chiefs over “sky-high” fuel prices.
The energy minister has called in the bosses of Asda, Tesco, Morrisons and Sainsbury’s, as well as leading fuel firms such as BP, Shell and Esso, for a meeting on Monday.
He has vowed to read “rip-off retailers” the riot act over pump prices at the summit, and tell them “enough is enough”.
The minister will also demand the firms release their pricing information to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) as part of a new scheme aiming to give customers better comparison data on local fuel rates.
It comes after an investigation found drivers paid an extra 6p per litre for fuel last year after supermarkets increased their profit margins.
In an editorial in The Sun newspaper on Saturday, Mr Shapps said he would be “slamming the brakes down on the mistreatment of motorists” at the meeting on Monday.
“I will be calling in the bosses of Asda, Tesco, Morrisons and Sainsbury’s – as well as the likes of BP, Shell and Esso – to explain themselves.
“I want to hear how they are going to fix this. I will be telling them to do the right thing and immediately end any attempt to overcharge at the pumps.
“I will demand that these companies sign up to the CMA’s scheme this summer to hand over their pricing information so that fuel comparison apps and websites can help consumers compare local fuel rates more effectively.”
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He also said the government was planning to change the law to compel companies to provide the pricing data – even if they do not want to.
Earlier this month, the CMA released the results of a year-long investigation into the fuel market, which found increased supermarket profit margins led to drivers paying an extra 6p per litre for fuel last year.
Asda was also fined £60,000 for a failure to provide information to the CMA when required.
The watchdog found that competition has “weakened” as Asda and Morrisons decided to increase the amount of money it makes on fuel and Sainsbury’s and Tesco had priced by comparison to local competitors rather than responding to cost movements in the market.
However, the regulator found no evidence to suggest that there had been “cartel behaviour” and that it had no plans to open an enforcement case against supermarkets.
Instead, it put forward its proposals for supermarkets and major fuel firms to share pricing data.
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Asda, in response to the CMA’s report, said it was the cheapest “traditional” supermarket for both food and fuel throughout the period of the review, while Morrisons said it was “extremely competitive” on fuel pricing.
Wholesale fuel prices spiked in the aftermath of the pandemic – as countries emerged for lockdown and global demand skyrocketed – while Russia’s invasion of Ukraine further increased costs.
However, when wholesale prices began to drop, fuel companies faced accusations by the likes of the RAC of failing to pass on the lower costs to customers.