Revealed: 2 in every 100 vehicles are untaxed

Revealed: 2 in every 100 vehicles are untaxed
The number of untaxed vehicles on the road has slowly risen in 2021.

Some 1.9% of vehicles (up from 1.6% in 2019) were unlicensed over the past year. The figure is equivalent to 719,000 untaxed vehicles representing a potential £119 million loss in revenue.

That said, the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) said that they cannot conclude the real loss in Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) will be £119 million ‘as this is an upper estimate and some will be reclaimed or paid later’.

Despite the ‘concerning’ trend, the DVLA have been quick to point out that ‘the vast majority of motorists are doing the right thing’. 98% of all vehicles on the road are correctly taxed, paying around £7bn in tax every year.

The newly published figures are the first estimates of untaxed vehicles or VED evasion since early 2020 and may be impacted by pandemic-related events.

Possible reasons for the latest trend include the:

  • decision to limit enforcement activity at the height of the pandemic
  • economic recession affecting vehicle owners’ ability to afford VED
  • return to the road of vehicles being given a SORN near the beginning of the pandemic

Results may also be affected as traffic levels were still a few percentage points below pre-pandemic levels at the time of the survey in June and early July 2021.

The DVLA’s online vehicle taxing service has worked as normal throughout the pandemic, with more than 98% of all vehicles in the UK being taxed this way. 

Julie Lennard, DVLA Chief Executive said: “We work hard to drive down vehicle tax evasion and the vast majority of motorists are doing the right thing with over 98% of vehicles on the road taxed correctly. 

“Estimated evasion rates fluctuate, and the pandemic is highly likely to have impacted some motorists’ behaviours. Those who choose to evade will be tackled using our proven package of comprehensive enforcement measures. 

“These include penalties and court prosecutions through to the use of Automatic Number Plate Recognition cameras, wheelclamping and the removal of untaxed vehicles.

“You can tax your vehicle using our quick and easy online services – available 24/7 – and the costs of vehicle tax can be spread throughout the year by opting to pay in instalments by direct debit, which is a popular choice with nearly 15 million vehicles taxed this way in 2020.”

RAC head of roads policy, Nicholas Lyes said: “It’s hugely concerning that we’re seeing ever greater numbers of unlicensed vehicles on the roads, with the total number now standing at nearly three-quarters of a million.

“While we’d like to think the abolition of the paper tax disc back in 2014 isn’t responsible, the fact remains evasion has increased significantly since then to the point where a shocking two in every 100 vehicles on the road aren’t taxed.

“The cost from VED evasion in 2021 alone is set to be a whopping £119m, a substantial sum that should be spent on improving our road network.

“We urge the DVLA to step up enforcement and to do all it can to bring evasion down, as it is clearly not fair on those who do pay their fair share to drive on the road.”

Visit the DVLA website to tax your vehicle here.

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