In 2021/22, drivers paid £33bn in fuel duty and vehicle excise duty. But the Government spent only £5.4bn on national roads and £6.4bn on local roads in the same period. This system is not fair for drivers or the general public, who suffer the consequences of polluting vehicles through negative health outcomes.
‘The Future of Driving’, co-authored by CPS Energy and Environment Researcher Dillon Smith and CPS Research Director Tom Clougherty, makes a series of vital recommendations to redress the balance.
The report suggests introducing a ‘pay as you drive’ scheme for Zero Emission Vehicles (ZEVs), becoming the only form of motoring taxation for those vehicles. ZEVs would be charged a flat rate for every mile they drive – but still pay significantly less than their petrol and diesel counterparts. While everyone would receive a set allocation of tax-free miles every year, the allocation would be higher for those living in remote areas with fewer transport alternatives.
Eventually, as the share of ZEVs on the roads grows, this new per mile charging system could completely replace fuel duty and vehicle excise duty for all vehicles – exchanging an outdated and onerous tax system with something ‘future-proof’ and much fairer towards drivers.
The report also shows that voters remain concerned about air quality and congestion, with significant numbers believing that government has not done enough to tackle either. Polling by BMG Research for the CPS shows strong support for action on both, including among 2019 Conservative voters.
However, the focus groups also made clear that local policymakers need to work harder to convince voters that these are targeted measures to improve air quality and congestion rather than purely a revenue raiser. The report recommends improved communication strategies and hypothecation as ways to achieve this. Just as drivers would like to see money from road taxes spent on improving the roads, they also back money from clean air zones being used to improve transport or to help people upgrade to cleaner vehicles.