Chancellor Rishi Sunak is considering introducing pay per mile road pricing in his upcoming budget speech, according to multiple media reports.
It comes as the Exchequer is facing a projected £40bn shortfall in revenue as motorists switch to low or zero emission vehicles ahead of a proposed 2030 ban on registering new petrol or diesel models.
A budget had been planned for November, but the Government announced that this had been cancelled due to the pandemic.
READ: A BUDGET FOR OUR TIME?
Road pricing has been proposed many times by governments of all stripes over the past 100 years, with Tony Blair last bringing the subject up in 2007 before quickly shelving it again. The plans were dropped then due to vociferous objections by motorists and technical limitations. However, now that all new vehicles have at least some form of ‘connected’ telemetry on board, implementing a scheme would be much easier.
Motoring groups are, perhaps unsurprisingly, against the move with Brian Madderson, Chairman of the Petrol Retailers Association, saying: “We are deeply concerned about the government’s potential road pricing proposals. It is unfathomable that the government would introduce a measure that would only succeed in discriminating against the poorest in society”.
“Public transport infrastructure in rural communities is near non-existent, with millions solely relying on their private vehicles to travel. If the regressive road pricing ‘poll-tax like’ regime came into force, those living in rural areas on low incomes would be hit the hardest as it could become unaffordable to run a car. This method of taxation has already been rejected by the British public in 2007 when proposed by the Labour government, so it is startling to see that these proposals are even being considered”.