Getty filling up diesel

The Digital Markets, Competition and Consumers Bill, which includes more powers to monitor the road fuel market, has been rushed through Parliament last week and passed ahead of the upcoming General Election on July 4.

The wide-reaching Bill gives the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) new powers to monitor pricing in the road fuel market and report any signs of malpractice to the government.

The move is targeted at “improving” competition in the market and ensuring ”a fair choice of prices” across the country.

Speaking earlier this year, Energy Security Secretary Claire Coutinho said she wanted to give the CMA new powers to “bring fairness back to the forecourts and make sure UK drivers get a competitive fuel price”.

The watchdog will use the information gathered from retailers to provide regular public updates on the state of competition in the UK fuel market, as well as report any evidence of unjustified price increases so the government can hold retailers to account.

Fuel retailers will be forced to ”come clean” on how much they are charging customers on their forecourts versus their profits. Those that fail to comply could face a fixed fine from the watchdog of up to 1% of their worldwide turnover, or an ongoing fine of up to 5% of daily turnover.

Last year, the CMA served Asda with RFIs (requests for information) as part of its market study into the road fuel market. The CMA then imposed two separate penalty notices with fines on the grocery giant for failure to comply. The two fines were for the statutory maximum of £30,000 each. Under the CMA’s new powers, it can impose penalties of up to 1% of a company’s turnover, which in Asda’s case would amount to millions of pounds.

Separately, the government continues to work on its PumpWatch fuel price transparency scheme and the introduction of a price monitoring body. Ahead of that, it is operating a voluntary scheme with 14 of the biggest retailers providing prices for all their sites on a daily basis.

PRA executive director Gordon Balmer, said: “This new Bill is strengthening the CMA’s powers in terms of their ability to gather information. The PRA will continue to support our members’ interests and work with the government and CMA going forward.”