TfL scrappage scheme funds run low as London’s ULEZ expansion approaches

TfL scrappage scheme funds run low as London’s ULEZ expansion approaches
As many as 135,000 car and van drivers are to be hit by the £12.50 charge when the Ultra-Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) expands in a week, Transport for London (TfL) estimates.

The expansion on 25 October is expected to most affect motorists who can’t afford to replace their non-compliant cars.

Sadiq Khan launched a £60 million vehicle scrappage scheme in 2019 offering £1,000 for motorbikes and £2,000 for cars to help those who needed to scrap and replace theirs with a greener alternative that would comply with emission standards.

However, there are only enough funds left to support around 1,500 of London’s most in-need motorists, the Mail Online’s This is Money has unearthed.

ULEZ will extend from the Congestion Charge Zone in Central London to create a single larger zone up to the inner boundaries of the North and South Circular Roads.

Drivers of older polluting petrol and diesel cars will have to pay the charge each day they drive into the zone, which will be enforced by automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) cameras across the city’s road network. For non-compliant vehicles, failure to pay the charge will result in fines of up to £160.

The scrappage scheme is only available to drivers who receive particular types of benefits, including universal credit, child tax credit, pension credit and working tax credit. They also must live in London and have a valid MOT, insurance and vehicle tax on the vehicle being scrapped. Drivers with ULEZ compliant vehicles cannot apply.

In a letter sent last week, GLA Conservatives transport spokesman Keith Prince AM called on the Mayor to delay the ULEZ expansion until next year to allow Londoners time to recover from the pandemic and prepare for the driving tax.

The letter also claimed that only a third of low-income and disabled applicants to the scrappage scheme had received a pay-out, as well as many more people on low incomes being excluded altogether as only those with certain benefits can apply.

The Evening Standard reported that by 20 September, TfL had received 19,594 applicants for the scheme but had accepted only 8,132 and paid out for 6,854. Around just a half of applications are expected to be accepted for the funds.

Paul Cowperthwaite, TfL’s general manager of road user charging, told This is Money: “Bold action is required to tackle London’s toxic air quality crisis which contributes to thousands of deaths each year and is linked to heart disease, dementia and the stunted development of children’s lungs. That is why we are expanding the ULEZ to 18 times its current size.

“Harmful nitrogen dioxide has already been slashed by 50% in the central zone and we expect to see a further fall of 30% London wide when the area increases.”

He added that the Mayor’s scrappage scheme has so far either retrofitted or taken off the road more than 12,000 vehicles, which has helped to ensure that more than 80% of vehicles in the expanded zone are now compliant with ULEZ standards.

RAC head of roads policy Nicholas Lyes said: “While the majority will be unaffected by the expansion of the ultra-low emission zone, around a fifth of vehicles don’t comply, so it’s vital drivers of cars, small vans and motorbikes use the TfL checker before 25 October or be prepared to pay a £12.50 daily charge. Drivers should also remember that the ULEZ, including the new expanded zone, operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”

Only diesel cars that meet Euro 6 standards (typically made post-2016) and petrol cars at Euro 4 standards (typically post-2006) are compliant with the ULEZ rules and therefore exempt from the charge. Vans and minibuses also must be compliant, and riders of pre-2007 motorbikes may find they need to trade them in for a newer model.

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