A temporary scheme to make the daily fuel prices of major retailers freely available to consumers will be operating by the end of August, according to the Competition and Markets Authority CMA), but with five weeks to go how it will operate has yet to be agreed.
The voluntary scheme is being set up by the CMA following a roundtable meeting on July 17 with fuel trade associations and fuel retailers hosted by Grant Shapps, secretary of state for the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero.
In a letter to Shapps following the meeting, CMA chief executive Sarah Cardell welcomed the government’s acceptance of its recommendations regarding the road fuels market.
These included setting up an “open-data fuel finder scheme”, which would give price comparison sites real-time, station-by-station fuel price data for all fuel retailers.
In her letter Cardell said she was mindful of the length of time it would take to legislate for such a system, and therefore she was seeking to set up a temporary voluntary scheme until it came into law.
She said the CMA was developing a scheme to do this by the end of August, whereby the largest retailers would make available, on a voluntary basis and in a common, machine-readable format, their daily prices across their petrol stations, which could then be used by comparison apps and sites.
However, she admitted that such a scheme would not deliver all the benefits of the full open data statutory scheme, and noted the CMA had no powers to compel retailers to provide the information.
She told Shapps: “I welcome your strong encouragement to retailers to participate in this arrangement voluntarily, in a full and timely way.
She added: “The CMA will set up a retailer working group to meet next week. I have invited your officials to participate in the working group, so the CMA and the government can continue to work together to help ensure drivers see the benefits of improved competition in the market as quickly and effectively as possible. We will update publicly on the progress made by the end of August.”