The UK govenment estimates that some 634,000 vehicles are using the roads without paying any VED tax, based on observations and ANPR activity at around 250 sites. Unsurprisingly, many of these untaxed vehicles are over 10 years old, as the punitive rates of taxation can reach over £300 per year, while Bentley and Porsche drivers who have a tiny electric motor built into their Popemobile, get away with paying zilch.
Fact is, £300 is a great deal of cash to those eking out a living on minimum wage, and trying to get to work during unsocial hours when buses and trains are not so frequent. You can see why people want to avoid VED tax, as 300 quid may well pay half your rent that month.
A few years ago, the government had the bright idea of abolishing the VED tax disc, which makes it harder to spot untaxed – and often uninsured – cars and vans. Evasion has trebled since 2014 when the discs vanished. The fact is that this experiment in saving admin costs and relying on driver honesty is NOT working, it simply raises the stakes when it comes to avoiding insurance and an MoT too. Not good news for road safety.
The time for reform is long overdue. The levels of tax on older vehicles bear no relationship to the true environmental impact of the cars themselves, many of which have small engines still capable of over 50mpg, and none of the stinking, acrid, blue smoke that can be seen belching from black cabs, antique school buses and older trucks on a daily basis. Some type of scannable disc system needs to be introduced, so that traffic Police, PCSOs and Parking Wardens can easily check which vehicles have VED, MoT and Insurance at the roadside, or in a public car park.
The private companies that love to clamp drivers for parking on private land should be authorised to do the same job with VED dodgers, and collect the revenue owed before releasing the vehicle. Can’t pay? Tow it away and scrap it after 14 days. Problem solved.
Responding to new data on the proportion of untaxed vehicles on the UK’s roads, RAC spokesman Simon Williams commented:
“While it is good news that vehicle tax evasion has gone down, it is still significantly higher than it was before the tax disc was abolished in October 2014. To put this into perspective, evasion in 2013 was around 0.6% and in 2015, the next point at which this survey was carried out, it had risen to around 1.4%.
“It’s therefore hard to see that doing away with the tax disc has been good for ensuring as many vehicles as possible are taxed for use on our roads.
“This all means the Government is consistently missing out on very large amounts of tax revenue which from next year will be ringfenced for maintaining major roads in England. This time around the lost revenue figure is potentially as much as £94m.”