Rocketing petrol prices driving many into debt
SOARING petrol prices are driving motorists into debt, new research has shown.
And professional drivers in Gloucestershire have gone into the red and gone bankrupt because of the cost of fuel, according to one county driving instructor.
Andy Bennett, who runs Andy1st driving school, based in Naunton Road, Gloucester, said: "I know of instructors who are struggling because of the cost of fuel, a lot are going into debt and I know of some who have run up £50,000 on their credit cards and have even gone bankrupt and lost their houses."
He added: "It's impossible to plan if one of your major costs is always going up. Our prices are pretty much the same as they were eight years ago and fuel has doubled in price in that time.
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"It used to be 70p or so a litre and now it's £1.40. We've had to change all our cars to diesel for the extra fuel economy."
The Automobile Association has produced figures that say the price jumps over the last 18 months, which have each added up to £5 onto the price for a small tank of petrol have pushed one in six drivers to dip into their savings, go overdrawn, visit a pawnbroker or take out a payday loan.
President of the AA Edmund King said: "Fuel price desperation has created a new and sinister twist to the phrase 'driven into debt'."
Keith Sheppard is a self-employed taxi-driver working with Bishop's Cleeve Private Hire taxis in Stoke Road in the village.
He said that the ever-increasing pump prices a serious concern for taxi drivers.
He added: "It does add to our costs, and we don't like to pass that on to our passengers, so we have to absorb it, and it eats into profits. We're private hire cars and if people feel it's too expensive they won't book us."
Another effect of rising petrol prices on Mr Sheppard's pocket was his decision to buy a more efficient car.
He said: "I had to get a new vehicle, but the more modern ones are more efficient, so I had to get a newer model, which is more expensive.
"There's a bigger picture to consider as well, everything in the country depends on road haulage, so increasing the cost of petrol raises the cost of everything."
The AA research suggests that younger drivers, who have relatively little capital and are probably earning lower salaries than average, are particularly vulnerable to fuel price hikes.
One in 50 have, according to the AA, put themselves into debt and taken a payday loan at high rates of interest, to fund their travel, often essential to get to work.
Association president Mr King added: "One in 50 of middle-aged AA members, aged 35 to 44 years, have also turned to high-interest lenders to counter crippling fuel price surges."
He added: "These drivers are probably saddled with family costs and mortgages or high rents, and their predicament is even more disturbing."