Tag Archive | "road tax"

War on Motorists

It’s official. You can establish the truth without help from any other source just by visiting a petrol pump. Our coalition government, so concerned for the motorist when in opposition, are continuing the war on drivers just as their predecessors had done. No doubt they will blame the ‘economic mess’ left behind by Labour. The result, however, is forcing drivers off the road.

The number of vehicles on Britain’s highways is in decline and new car sales are, at best, holding their own. The Department for Transport has revealed that the volume of motor traffic has fallen for a fourth successive year. Statistics show that terms of miles driven as at 2010 there was a year on year drop of 0.8%, 1% and 1.6% up to 2009 and it is continuing, although, as we‘ll see, the DoT disputes this as a long term effect.

Apparently, in 2010/11 some £27 billion was raised through fuel tax yet the government appears not to be in the least bit satisfied with that and will, at the time of writing, increase fuel duty again in August 2012. The AA have said:

“People are being priced off the roads, and it is those on low incomes and those in rural areas who are worst affected. There is a real danger that motoring is being wound back to the 1960s and 70s, when it was, by and large, the preserve of the middle classes.”

People on higher incomes may well weather the storm but those with lower pay will suffer. What price the mobility of pensioners, one wonders, or young families trying to make their way? Goods are more expensive in the shops because of the increased costs to the transport industry. The more expensive fuel becomes the more living expenses, jobs and the economy in general suffers, yet successive governments seem to be bereft of ideas to find other ways to generate income or save money. It doesn’t end there of course, insurance and garage fees rise inexorably every year adding to the misery. People are being forced to give up their cars.

Should we read so much into statistics? The DoT seems to think not. The Department suggest that the reduction in traffic is a ‘blip’ when compared to the overall picture. They have predicted that over the next thirty years or so we will see a rise in traffic of 43%. The suggestion also is that as people become ‘greener’ they are voluntarily reducing their mileage and are, for example, cycling more instead. Hmmm. This is the problem with statistics – a rise of 43% will have alarming consequences for the road transport system which is why we are probably being softened up now to the prospect of road charging. It is a problem to know where the truth lies but for now motorists wallets will continue to be plundered.


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Pothole App

It had to happen, didn’t it? Our American cousins in Boston have been trying out some smartphone software that automatically detects potholes, the bane of British drivers. According to a survey by the Asphalt Industry Alliance – whose work is considered to be the most accurate assessment of the state of our roads – reckons that local authorities face a shortfall of £895m in road maintenance budgets. At the same time motoring groups say that, with the rise in VAT and the inflated fuel prices, it appears that the Treasury has trousered some £4 billion since the Coalition took office. As they insist on saying in the USA – do the math.

The App is being tested by New Urban Mechanics, a division of the Boston mayor’s office and it’s going to be launched in the city this Spring. It is called ‘Street Bump’. It detects the location and size of offending craters as you drive over them using a motion sensor and GPS. When a car drives over a pothole or sunken manhole it pinpoints where it is. The driver then has the option to press a button and send the data to the local highways department. Apparently it works really well.

UK councils don’t, unsurprisingly, seem terribly keen on the idea. As many of you have experienced, one of the defences of local government to pothole damage claims is that they were unaware of it, so couldn’t possibly be responsible. Just think. All responsible drivers communicating, in their local area, whenever they encounter a defect. Council’s wouldn’t have a leg to stand on and the cost to them of compensation claims would go through the roof! That might encourage a bit more action on road surface repair from local and national government alike.

The Local Government Association put it differently, as you might expect. They are said to be ‘uneasy’ about the amount of information overload as this full quote states:

“Councils will always try to make the best use of technology to improve services, but an automatic alert system which reports every little undulation risks being more of a hindrance than a help. Highways departments could end up being inundated with thousands of new reports each day about potholes they are already aware of, taking hours for officers to sift through.”

The Street Bump developer points out, however, that local authorities could save time and money spent on surveying roads. By collating the data they could recognise specific problems as drivers on the same road create a ‘map’ of the problem. This would also get around any false or malicious one-offs. It’s not as if the Government don’t have the money! Surely that is what ‘Road Tax’ is for?

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Government Takes Three Times Road Spending in Motoring Taxes

Yes, you read that headline right. Latest figures from the Department for Transport have revealed that the Government now takes three times more than the budget earmarked for spending on the UK’s roads through levies on the motorist.

It begs the question what do we pay our road tax, fuel duty – the most significant portion of the price of a litre of fuel at 70 per cent – further VAT on fuel and insurance premium duty for if it’s just going straight into the coffers of old Queen Lizzies’ HM Revenue and Customs?

road Government Takes Three Times Road Spending in Motoring Taxes

The shocking state of the UK’s roads can only be blamed on the previous couple of harsh winters to a certain extent – the fact that only one third of what is taken in taxes on drivers is ever reinvested in the country’s road network is the real reason for the fields of potholes and emerging trenches that litter the motorways, trunk roads and high streets of Great Britain.

Last year the Treasury raised roughly £27 billion in fuel duty – the tax levied on a litre of fuel by the Chancellor, George Osborne – with around £5 billion coming from road tax.

Of this £33 billion purse, just under £5.7 billion was spent on the UK’s local roads with £3.75 billion put towards the up keep of national roads – a rough total of £9.45 billion expenditure and only 27 per cent of the total collected by the Treasury’s coffers.

Not only is the miserly spending on keeping the national road network up to date shocking, the fact that Department for Transport figures highlight the take from road tax doubled from 1987 to 2010, and revenue from fuel duty more than tripled, compounds motorists’ anger further.

“This is highway robbery. Using so little of the taxes motorists pay on road upkeep is plainly unfair.

“Motorists are also paying the price as Britain’s potholed and increasingly dangerous roads take their toll, damaging tyres, wheels, steering and suspension.” said Neil Greig, Director of policy and research for the IAM.

AA president Edmund King added: “fuel duty alone contributes more than 5% of the public finances tax take, including council tax. The Treasury is beginning to find out how high fuel prices and tax have started to kill off the goose that lays the golden egg.”

As fuel prices rocket to an all-time high and sales at the pumps drop, the government has to realise it needs to cut its taxes on the motorist and seriously improve the service drivers of the UK receive for the financial cost of taxes on driving, or the self-perpetuating situation is set to continue on its current downward spiral.


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