Empowering the Freelance Economy

Pumpwatch Scheme: Petrol stations required to post real-time fuel prices to drive competition

Photo by Photo by Gustavo Fring via Pexels
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Good news for self-employed drivers. The government is taking steps to bring down fuel prices by requiring pump stations to share real-time prices instantly via apps and websites. Here’s the latest on the Pumpwatch Scheme

  • New real-time fuel price data will help drivers shop for fuel, via navigation apps, in-car devices and comparison websites
  • Industry asked for views on the new legal requirement to share prices within 30 minutes of a change
  • Part of government action to further drive down pump prices by bringing transparency and competition back to the forecourts

As part of the UK government’s proposal for the Pumpwatch Scheme, fuel stations will soon be required to share their prices instantly, not just daily. This means you can compare prices on your phone or in-car device before you even fill up.

Transparency usually breeds competition, so that could mean lower prices. The government is also cracking down on retailers who overcharge, and this new scheme will make it even harder for them to get away with it.

A similar statewide scheme in Queensland, Australia saw drivers save on average $93 (£48) per year, by making it easier for them to shop around for fuel.

This is likely to spur the development and launch of new apps and websites that show you the cheapest fuel stations near you in real-time.

Under the new proposals, forecourts across the country will be legally required to share live information on their pump prices within 30 minutes of any change in price, which could save drivers 3p per litre on fuel by helping them find the best deal at the pump.

“This freely available data will enable tech companies to develop new ways for the UK’s 41.2 million drivers to search for the cheapest fuel while on-the-go via everyday mobile apps, online mapping platforms, journey planning tools, price comparison websites and in-car devices,” said The Department for Energy and Net Zero.

Twelve of the biggest retailers, including all 4 fuel-selling supermarkets, have already signed up to an interim voluntary scheme run by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) to share their daily prices – with some news outlets and websites using this data to offer price comparisons.

Last year, a report by the CMA revealed some retailers had failed to pass on savings in oil prices – charging drivers 6p more per litre for fuel, which amounted to £900 million in extra costs in 2022 alone. 

What does the Pumpwatch Scheme mean for the self-employed?

  • Reduced fuel costs: Every penny saved on fuel adds up, especially for those who drive a lot for work. This scheme could put hundreds of pounds back in your pocket each year.
  • More efficient business: Spending less time searching for cheap fuel means more time for your business. These tools will help you optimise your routes and save valuable time.
  • Fairer competition: The playing field is being levelled for smaller fuel stations, which could lead to even more competitive prices.
  • Real-time fuel price data: All UK fuel stations will be forced to share their prices instantly when they change. This data will be freely available
  • No more rip-offs: The government is cracking down on retailers who don’t pass on wholesale price drops to you. Expect to see more consistent and fair pricing across the country.
  • Savings in your pocket: Similar schemes in other countries have led to drivers saving an average of £48 per year. That’s money back in your pocket to reinvest in your business, pay down bills, or just enjoy a well-deserved treat.

Get involved: The government is asking for your feedback on the new scheme. You can share your thoughts and experiences through the consultation process. See more information on the consultation here.

Share this news on social media with your fellow self-employed friends and colleagues. The more people who know about this, the more pressure there will be on the government to make it a success.

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