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Petrol prices hit new high with unleaded now 155p a litre as calls grow for Rishi Sunak to cut fuel VAT in upcoming budget

Petrol and diesel prices have reached unprecedented levels as Russia's invasion of Ukraine starts to impact on drivers at UK forecourts.

Average petrol prices have now exceeded 155p per litre for the first time, says the AA, as oil prices continue to soar.

The price of Brent crude oil rose to its highest level in 14 years this morning - a move which is likely to put further pressure on household budgets - as the US and Europe discussed banning imports of Russian oil and gas.

Petrol prices are hitting record highs
Petrol prices are hitting record highs

While figures from data firm Experian Catalist, reported by the AA, show these volatile prices are now being reflected on petrol forecourts with the average cost of a litre of unleaded petrol at UK petrol stations on Sunday 155.62p - with the cost of diesel also hitting a new high after being recorded at 161.28p.

A year ago the price per litre of petrol and diesel was 124.32p and 127.25p respectively.

The RAC says it sees no end in sight to the rising prices, with Russian's invasion of Ukraine now adding to what were already record high fuel prices this year following two years of the coronavirus pandemic.

The invasion of Ukraine is contributing to resulting in a rise in oil prices
The invasion of Ukraine is contributing to resulting in a rise in oil prices

RAC fuel spokesman Simon Williams said: "The average price of petrol across the UK has jumped by more than 4p in a week topping £1.55 for the first time ever, which means a gallon costs over £7 – something which many older drivers will be struggling to comprehend.

"Diesel, however, has increased by 6.5p a litre to £1.61 or £7.30 a gallon. These hikes are unprecedented and will sadly be hitting both homes and businesses hard."

The motoring organisation is among those now demanding that Chancellor Rishi Sunak use this month's upcoming budget to cut the VAT on fuel - which currently stands at 20% for petrol and diesel - to try and relieve the pressure being placed on the pockets of drivers.

Mr Williams added: "It’s vital the Chancellor acts quickly to limit the damage by cutting VAT to at least 15% which would save drivers 6.5p a litre and take the average price of unleaded back under £1.50.

"Importantly, this could also limit the impact of inevitable fuel price rises in the coming days and weeks."

There are growing calls for the VAT on fuel to be cut
There are growing calls for the VAT on fuel to be cut

Campaign group Fair Fuel UK claims petrol prices are around 14p higher now than is necessary, after wholesale costs and exchange rates are taken into account, and is calling for an independent pump price watchdog to be brought in to try and control escalating costs in the light of the coxst of living crisis.

Among those supporting the proposal is MP Craig McKinley who is chairman of the Fair Fuel all-party parliamentary group.

He explained: "A PumpWatch monitor similar to Ofwat or Ofgem could ensure that reductions in oil prices are properly passed on to motorists at the fuel pump. It is unjustifiable that motorists continue to be over-charged for their fuel during a period of rapidly rising inflation across the board. HM Treasury could also help by using the VAT windfall being derived from high current pump prices.

"The cost-of-living crisis is already proving incredibly painful for many and sanity needs be restored to petrol pricing as quickly as possible."

With petrol now hitting record highs, speculation is also growing as to at what level prices might reach and when.

Motoring magazine and website Auto Express suggests prices could soon reach £1.75p for a litre of unleaded while betting experts at the Online Betting Guide say that bookmakers are predicting a 30% chance petrol prices could reach £2 a litre if the war in Ukraine continues.

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