Petrol and diesel prices 'at all-time high'
DIESEL and petrol prices are at an all-time high and the cost of home heating oil has soared to more than £1 a litre, the Consumer Council has warned.
The body said the average consumer will have to find at least an extra £1,300 for bills in the year ahead.
And it warned that prices "could continue to rise in Northern Ireland in the short term".
Oil prices have rocketed because the Russian invasion of Ukraine has reduced access to Russian oil.
Prices have also been affected because the value of the pound against the dollar has dropped.
The average price of diesel and petrol are at an all-time high, according to the council's weekly fuel survey.
The cost of diesel is around 196.0p - more than 5p higher than the previous week.
Petrol prices are around 189.3p - a rise of more than 3p in a week.
However, prices are even higher in some areas.
Diesel at some forecourts in Belfast was on sale at 203.9p - the highest price yesterday.
The highest petrol price of 194.9p was recorded in Ballyclare, Co Antrim, yesterday.
Home heating oil prices have risen to £1.10 a litre on average, more than double the ten-year average price.
The price is the second highest in a decade, behind the average £1.37 a litre price recorded during the week to March 10 this year.
Peter McClenaghan, director of infrastructure and sustainability at the Consumer Council, said global rises in the price of buying and refining crude oil were "having a devastating impact in Northern Ireland given we are the most car dependent UK region, our incomes are lower than the UK average, and two thirds of us use home heating oil".
He said the council speaks to consumers every day who are deeply concerned about the winter ahead.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak previously announced a one-off payment of £650 to the lowest income families, paid in two instalments in July and the autumn.
He also announced an energy bill discount of £400 for all households, but this is not necessarily guaranteed due to the impasse at Stormont.
Mr McClenaghan said the support package will help pensioners, people with disabilities, and some benefit claimants.
"We know how desperate many people are for that support and we would encourage recipients, if you can, plan for heating your home this winter when deciding how to use the money you receive in July," he said.
"There is also an express need for clarity if, how, and when the Chancellor’s £400 energy support package will be made available everyone in Northern Ireland.
"Regarding fuel prices, the Consumer Council is engaging with the Competition and Markets Authority to ensure Northern Ireland consumers' interests are represented in their upcoming review of the fuel price market and to share our experience of running the Northern Ireland Fuel Price Checker which the AA believe should be rolled out across the UK."
Consumers can access information and advice about managing their household bills by visiting www.consumercouncil.org.uk/costofliving.