The decision by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) not to investigate the £47bn UK oil sector is simply a side-show, and the need to tackle the punishingly high rate of fuel duty remains paramount, campaigners have said.

James Hookham, MD of policy and communications at the FTA, said: “This report won’t change anything and the FTA believes it is only a distraction from the real issue of fuel duty. The chancellor still has to do something.”

John Gregory, chief executive of Gregory Distribution and a supporter of FairFuelUK, which is pushing for a cut in fuel duty this year, agreed.

“The biggest issue about fuel is that, while transport businesses will have an escalator in place as a safeguard, we are effectively asking our customers to absorb the increases. This makes conversations about addressing other rising costs [in the business] impossible,” he said.

Revealing its decision last week, the OFT stated: “We recognise that there has been widespread mistrust in how this market is operating.

“However, our analysis suggests that competition is working well, and rises in pump prices over the past decade or so have largely been down to increases in tax and the cost of crude oil.”

Robert Halfon MP, founder of PetrolPromise, expressed disappointment at the decision and called on the government to cut fuel duty. “Britain has the highest rate of diesel tax in Europe. That is not competitive, and it is bad for jobs and growth,” he said.

  • In the 10 years between 2003 and 2012, consumer pump prices increased from 78ppl to 142ppl for diesel, caused largely by an increase of nearly 24ppl in tax and duty and 33ppl in the cost of crude oil.                      Source: OFT