AA: Petrol Prices Exceed Family Food Bills
The price of petrol at the pumps has risen to a new high, exceeding the cost of an average family weekly food shop for the first time.
After a brief halt following weeks of increases, the average cost of petrol has gone up to 142.48p a litre, according to motoring group AA.
It means filling up a family car with a 50 litre tank now costs about £71, slightly more than the estimated £70 that two-children families spend on groceries each week.
Diesel, at 147.88p a litre on average, is just short of the record price which was set last week.
The AA said petrol had risen 10.23p a litre and diesel 7.32p a litre since pump prices began to climb at the start of the year, adding £21.72 to the monthly petrol cost of a two-car family.
The rises come at a time when many households are struggling to keep up with budgets.
Earlier in the week, official figures revealed inflation notched back up in March and the Bank of England warned it was likely to remain above 3% for the rest of the year.
In the past month alone, petrol has gone up 3.98p a litre and diesel 2.43p. A year ago, petrol cost 135.29p a litre and diesel 141.60p.
The most expensive petrol is to be found in Northern Ireland, at 143.9p a litre on average, while the cheapest is in Scotland (142.2p), the AA said.
The dearest diesel is in Northern Ireland (148.2p a litre) while the least expensive is in Yorkshire and Humberside (147.3p).
The latest rise comes after the threat of a fuel strike by tanker drivers, which is ongoing, and panic buying by drivers drove up petrol prices last month.
AA president Edmund King said: "Panic buying in March forced some cash-strapped families to spend far more on fuel than their budgets could bear.
"Filling up a 50-litre tank costs more than some families spend on food each week."
Fresh talks aimed at averting strikes by fuel tanker drivers are to be held next week, raising hopes that industrial action can be averted.
The conciliation service Acas announced that leaders of the Unite union and officials from six distribution companies will meet on Monday.
The Unite union has also been given an extension to next Tuesday before it has to make a decision about taking strike action.
The union has appealed to motorists not to panic buy petrol, pointing out that no strikes have been set.
After the row flared last month, the Government advised motorists to top up their cars with petrol and to store fuel in jerry cans, leading to panic buying and shortages of supplies.
There were chaotic scenes at garages as long queues built up, leading to criticism of the Government for the way they handled the dispute.
:: Meanwhile, many UK households are reporting higher energy bills than last year, despite one of the mildest winters in a decade, consumer groups have said.
Research for Consumer Focus and Citizens Advice found four in 10 people (40%) are facing higher winter bills despite the warmer weather and resulting fall in energy consumption.