London ULEZ expansion could see tradespeople charged £3,000 a year

Sadiq Khan scolded by Conservative assembly member over ULEZ

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London’s Ultra Low Emission Zone will be expanding on August 29, 2023, with all boroughs and the City of London set to see charges for any particularly harmful petrol or diesel vehicles. Only petrol vehicles registered after 2006 and diesel vans registered since 2016 will evade the charge, under which drivers must pay £12.50 a day to enter the zone.

An estimated 30,000 non-compliant vans travel daily in the ULEZ zone, according to an impact assessment of the policy move for Transport for London by consultant Jacobs.

But figures from Auto Trader show there are only 5,181 vans currently for sale across the whole of London and the South-East which follow the rules.

This could potentially leave almost 25,000 drivers of older vans potentially exposed to the ULEZ charge.

Across the entire UK, there were only 23,803 compliant new and used vans for sale in December, according to the online marketplace.

This is still almost 6,000 short of the estimated 30,000 drivers impacted.

Tradespeople entering the zone every working day will typically rack up more than £3,100 a year in ULEZ fees – or face a £180 penalty if they fail to pay.

A spokesperson for Auto Trader, said: “This will be a real worry for thousands of van drivers already struggling to cope with high inflation. 

“The number of ULEZ-compliant vans for sale is just a fraction of the estimated 30,000 vans affected, leaving the majority facing the prospect of paying thousands of pounds extra to get to work.”

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The Jacobs report, published last May, estimated a total cost of £359million for businesses with non-compliant vans between 2023 to 2030. 

Of this, £96million would impact businesses outside Greater London and the remaining £263million would be borne by businesses within the ULEZ expansion area.

The average price of a diesel van which follows the new rules on the Auto Trader site is £23,972, more than £6,500 more expensive than a non-compliant vehicle. 

The latest raid comes after Chancellor Jeremy Hunt announced plans to hit van drivers with a “transit tax” in April following a £100million hike in company van tax.

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From January 30, 2023, Londoners receiving certain low-income or disability benefits can apply to the Mayor of London’s £110million scrappage scheme. 

Eligible applicants could receive a payment to scrap their vehicle, or choose a lower payment plus one or two TfL Annual Bus and Tram passes worth more than the payment alone.

London-based sole traders, micro-businesses (10 or fewer employees) and registered charities will also be able to apply to scrap or retrofit a van or minibus.

There will also be ULEZ support offers for successful scrappage scheme applicants, as well as offers for all Londoners to take advantage of, whether eligible for a scrappage payment or not.

This was one of the key reasons for the pause in the rollout of the Clean Air Zone in Greater Manchester.

Many businesses and fleets complained that they could not access CAZ-compliant vehicles, with global supply chain issues hampering the rollout of electric vans.

The council is still working with the Government to decide the best course of action, although this has been slowed significantly as a result of the Prime Ministerial changes.

A public consultation on the new Clean Air Plan proposals will take place in early 2023, subject to Government feedback.

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