Motor fuel price increases in the UK: who will lose the most?

Fuel prices at the pump, which had been declining since 2014, have recently started to increase again, as a result of changes in the oil price market and sterling devaluation since Brexit. They are expected to increase even further in 2017 as part of a general trend towards higher inflation in the UK.

If prices were to increase significantly, many British households would find it hard to cope. Household budgets are already under strain and, for many, a car is necessary to reach work, shops and other basic activities of daily life. For some, it will be possible to ‘shift’ to alternative modes of travel, but this is by no means always the case.

In our work for the (t)ERES research project, we have developed an indicator to map vulnerability to fuel price increases in England. Details about the method and findings can be read in a conference paper available on this website and in the presentation below.

Overall, our findings show the picture of a divided country. Greater London and the surrounding areas would be very resilient to fuel price increases, because of low current levels of expenditure on fuel, higher income and good public transport.

Much of the rest England, however, would suffer more, as a result of lower income, worse public transport, or both. This is true of places as different as Cumbria, the West Midlands, Sheffield city-region and seaside towns on the East Coast. Many of these places have suffered huge cuts to public transport since 2010, which have probably made them even more vulnerable.