- Petrol poverty: drivers on lower incomes hit hardest by record-breaking fuel prices -

- Part-time sales and customer service workers pay as much as 13% of their income on fuel per year(1)


  • The cost to fill a medium-sized tank of petrol reaches £75, after prices increase 13.1p (+11%) in 12 months to 131.5p/l in October, on average – the highest on record(2).
  • More than a fifth (22%) of UK motorists spend more on fuel in a month than they do on days out with their family and friends.
  • One in seven (14%) drivers can’t afford to fill up regularly with fuel, as one in five (20%) say the cost of fuel is making it unaffordable to run a car.
  • Confused.com offers motorists £20 free Texaco vouchers with car insurance purchases(3) to ease the sting of inflated costs.


Motorists on ‘lower’ incomes are being priced off the road by record-breaking fuel costs, according to new research.


Paying out for fuel to get from A to B is something motorists cannot avoid, especially when it comes to families and workers. But it is clear fuel prices are draining money from drivers with lower incomes, leaving them with fewer pennies to play with.


Drivers who earn between £5,001 and £10,000, such as part-time sales or customer service workers(4) who are likely to have other commitments such as young families or other dependents, are paying a significant percentage of their income, anywhere between 7% and 13%, on fuel(1). That’s according to the study, conducted by Confused.com, which revealed motorists within this pay-bracket spend £653 per year on fuel, on average.


Meanwhile, motorists earning more than £35,000 fork out between 2% and 3%(5) - as much as £1,291 per year, on average. Although, arguably, this is still more than they should, given just how much the price of fuel has reached.


But regardless of how much a motorist earns, or how much they are spending, there is clearly the need for fairer fuel prices, as all drivers rely on their cars equally. And inflated fuel prices shouldn’t be a burden on anyone. To ease the sting of these costs, Confused.com is offering motorists £20 free Texaco vouchers with car insurance(3), to make filling up their tank that little bit easier.


And the issue is only likely to get worse as the cost of fuel reaches record prices in October, following 12 months of rapid increases. According to Confused.com’s fuel price index, the cost of petrol alone has increased 13.1p (+11%) over the past year, reaching 131.5p/l in October, on average, costing drivers £75 to fill up a medium-sized car (57L). Meanwhile, the price of diesel accelerated by 15.6p (+13%) to 136.2p with a full medium-sized tank (57L) costing a whopping £78, on average.


However, the research reveals the inflated fuel costs have hit all motorists hard, with some admitting they are spending more money on fuel than quality time with their loved ones. In fact, more than a fifth (22%) of drivers say they spend more on fuel in a month than they do going on days out with their family and friends. While, one in six (17%) spend more on fuel than they are able to save in a month. More than a quarter (28%) also say they spend more on fuel than their monthly car insurance bill – a notoriously expensive cost burdened on drivers.


Considering fuel has become such a major expenditure for many motorists, it’s no wonder a fifth (20%) say the cost is making it unaffordable to run a car. And there is evidence of this in the fact that one in seven (14%) drivers cannot afford to fill up their car with fuel regularly, with the average amount spent per trip to the pumps costing motorists just £31, per time, on average. And this isn’t even enough to fill up a tank of a small car (42L), which would cost £55 for petrol, and £57 for diesel, on average(2).


But cutting back on the amount they spend when topping up isn’t the only measure motorists are taking to save the pennies. Almost a quarter (23%) say they avoid making trips in their car to reduce their need to spend on fuel. One in four (25%) drivers would even consider changing their job to move closer to their home to cut back the amount they are forking out on fuel. Nearly one in five (18%) would even consider changing jobs to get a better salary, in order to be able to afford to run their car.


And it seems motorists are willing to ditch conventional-fuel cars in order to cut back on their fuel spending, and would be adopt greener, more cost efficient alternatives. Additional research by Confused.com(5) found that almost half (48%) of motorists would buy an electric vehicle for their next car, the majority (77%) of which would do so because it would save on fuel. But worryingly, there is still the other 52% who wouldn’t, mostly (65%) due to the lack of charging points. Although, the hefty price tag is also an issue to some (61%).


And Confused.com’s expert report predicts electric vehicles could become more affordable by 2023(6). But until then, motorists may still be reliant on conventional fuelled cars, which come with significant costs themselves.


Amanda Stretton, motoring editor at Confused.com, says: “Fuel prices have reached the most expensive on record, according to our fuel price index, and motorists are feeling the sting, particularly those on lower incomes who are paying as much as 13% of their yearly income. And if prices continue to go up, motorists may be priced off the road. But at the moment, drivers are spending more money on fuel than they are on time with their loved ones, or even putting away money to save.

“To take some of the pressure off motorists at a time when fuel is at it’s most expensive, Confused.com is offering customers £20 free Texaco vouchers with car insurance(3).

“But it isn’t just inflated fuel prices motorists are facing. Car insurance prices have also started to creep up again according to our latest car insurance price index data. Drivers should shop around online at Confused.com and compare motoring costs, such as fuel and car insurance to find the best deal.”



Notes to editors

Unless otherwise stated, all figures taken from omnibus research carried out by One Poll on behalf of Confused.com. This was an online poll of 2,000 UK adults who drive (nationally representative sample). The research was conducted between 16th October and 18th October 2018.


  1. The average amount drivers who earn between £5,001 and £10,000 spend on fuel per year is £653. This is 13% of £5,001, and 7% of £10,000.
  2. Confused.com’s fuel price index collates prices from 7074 out of 8496 fuel stations across the UK. Prices are updated every week: https://www.confused.com/on-the-road/petrol-prices/fuel-price-index. Prices correct as of 19/10/18. Prices are highest since Confused.com’s records began in July 2016.
  3. Terms and Conditions apply - https://www.confused.com/fuel-offer/terms-and-conditions
  4. https://www.ons.gov.uk/employmentandlabourmarket/peopleinwork/earningsandworkinghours/datasets/occupation2digitsocashetable2 - based on 2017 provisional data, table 27.a (annual pay – gross 2017) analysing part-time salaries by occupation.
  5. Figures taken from omnibus research carried out by One Poll on behalf of Confused.com. This was an online poll of 2,000 UK adults who drive (nationally representative sample). The research was conducted between 20th September and 26th September 2018.
  6. With many manufacturers putting sizeable amounts of money into developing new electric models over the next two to five years (2020-2023), including reducing the cost of batteries and an increase to the number of available charge points, the report predicts costs will come down significantly within a similar time frame. See report summary.
  7. https://www.confused.com/car-insurance/price-index