According to an article in the Financial Times written by Jim Pickard and Mark Odell, ministers are looking at a two-tier system of road tax under which motorists who use motorways and main trunk roads pay more than those who do not. This has also been widely reported on both radio and television news programs. There has as you would expect, been a lot of comment from many sections of the motoring community. Most of it on the pros and cons of such a system. The AA isn’t impressed with a spokesperson quoted as saying "This would create a two-tier system on Britain’s roads, which would push many drivers away from trunk roads and into towns and villages where congestion would increase".
However, Stephen Glaister, director of the RAC Foundation, is reported to have said that a scheme could work if the proceeds were used to improve the road network, and there is a lot more along the same lines depending which news outlet you read, watch and/or listen too.
Now me, being the cynic that I am, believes although this has been put out through the Department for Transport (DFT) and the Treasury, it does in fact come from the Ministry of Misinformation!
Way back before the economic crash, certainly before Vince Cable started making his predictions of breakdown I had been telling anybody who would listen, that it just didn’t add up. I said somewhere a big financial hole was developing and sooner or later we were all going to fall into it. (If you don’t believe me, ask any member of my family if I said it). I don’t think it was just me, I guess there were many thousands (maybe millions) of like-minded individuals around the country, who just like me had no real influence to change what was happening. What has any of this got to do with the proposed road tax changes you ask? Well none, other than to say that I am making a prediction that you can make note of and then when it comes to pass you will be able to say “that’s strange, I’m sure I read about this somewhere”.
Currently, vehicle excise duty raises £6bn a year, and any change in the way it is raised will only be so as to raise more. Think about it, the sole purpose for anyone in government to think about anything right now is how can they make poor old Joe pay more? I don’t have any facts or figures to hand but I would bet a pound to a packet of Jaffa cakes that as more people are buying more fuel efficient cars, revenue from vehicle excise duty is not increasing at anything like the rate this lot would like to see (could it be reducing?). Surely it stands to reason, the more fuel efficient cars are, the less vehicle excise duty the driver has to pay, in some cases its zero. On top of that, the more fuel efficient cars are, the less fuel the driver buys, so ipso facto, less fuel duty being paid (and on top of that, because we are all so hard up, we are keeping driving to the minimum, well I am).
The same thing happened with smoking. While it still raises a lot of money, revenue from duty on tobacco will go down even though they keep putting duty up on tobacco at every budget. Its self defeating because it just makes more people give up smoking (or buy it illegally).
So, the first thing they have to get round is how to make drivers pay more VED, especially those who currently pay nothing or very little. Take note all you hybrid car drivers, the buggers are out to get you. It’s been suggested that those drivers who do not use motorways and main trunk roads would pay less than those who do. Do not be fooled by this, it does not mean you will be paying less than you do now, it means less than the others! Getting back to my main point, it’s all a smoke screen.
I can see toll roads coming all over country (privately run). The introduction of congestion charging in major towns and cities (to raise local revenue). Increasing VAT on all vehicle related products such as oil filters, tires, and windscreens etc on the grounds that it would be better related to those using the road more paying more. Can you imagine that as some point in the future you will have to decide, is it cheaper to go through town and pay the congestion charge or drive round the by-pass and pay a toll for doing so? You can snigger, just you wait and see. I can remember laughing at Monty Python when one of them said a wet bird never flies at night. I’ve come to realize that’s something I’ve never seen and I don’t think I ever will (and I suspect none of you will either).