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Bank boss backs steps to tackle retailers over-charging amid cost crisis

Andrew Bailey said regulators should take action to stop companies from unfairly profiteering as evidence points to price gouging on some products.

Bank of England governor Andrew Bailey has said there was evidence that some retailers are overcharging shoppers and backed regulator moves to tackle so-called price gouging.

The central bank boss told the BBC’s Newsround programme that regulators need to take steps to make sure that retailers do not take advantage of high inflation to push through unfair price hikes and add to the cost-of-living crisis.

It comes after the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said earlier this week that drivers paid nearly £1 billion more for fuel at supermarkets last year as retailers looked to increase their profit margins.

Mr Bailey told the BBC that while the Bank cannot take action to stop companies from unfairly profiteering, regulators can and should take action, in particular in the fuel market, to help lower inflation.

He said: “I do welcome the fact…that this these things are being tackled.

“That’s important.

“It helps us with inflation, but it’s just fairer if these things are tackled.

“This is having very difficult effects.”

Bank
The Bank of England (Aaron Chown/PA)

The CMA found that customers of Asda, Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons had forked out an estimated combined additional cost of “around £900 million” due to the fuel pricing tactics.

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt called in regulators of a raft of sectors last week to look at ways to make sure firms are not over charging and that those struggling with payments can receive the help they need.

Mr Bailey also told Newsround that young people and younger families were being particularly impacted by high inflation and the interest rate rises to tackle it, given that they often need to borrow more and have less in savings.

“I feel very much for them” he said.

He said inflation, currently running at 8.7%, will start to come back down towards the 2% target towards the end of next year.

But he declined to say when rates will start to come down.

“I can’t give you a date as to when interest rates start to come down because that really depends upon what happens over the period of time ahead, but getting inflation down is the most important thing that we have to do,” he said.

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