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Road Charging Moves Closer

November 16, 2020

By Paul Homewood


It was of course always inevitable:



As I have been saying for years, the government would have little choice but to go for road charges to replace the lost fuel tax once EVs took over.

It was always inconceivable that electricity could be taxed in the same way, as it would generate massive energy poverty and would obviously discriminate against poorer non-car households.

Equally to raise £40bn from other taxes would be political suicide.

In my view, road charging could become the equivalent of the next government’s poll tax. In theory of course, it only swaps one tax for another, but so did the poll tax.

One particular consequence is that all cars would pay the same rate, disadvantaging drivers of smaller, more economic cars which would use less fuel.

In any event, it is inevitable that the revenue from road charging would quickly outstrip current revenue from fuel duty. Quite apart from the administrative costs which would need to be recovered, it would be far too tempting to start ratcheting up rates on the flimsiest excuse, such as road congestion.

It is after all the stated aim of climate zealots in Parliament and elsewhere to cut the amount of travel we do in our cars. What better way to do it than make it unaffordable for the average driver to use his car on a regular basis?


Ironically, drivers of electric cars may be put out more than most. Currently freed from paying fuel duty and vehicle excise duty, they will find themselves much worse off, once the cash cow provided by other motorists disappears.

And it’s not even as if their cars are much cheaper to run anyway. According to WhichCar, the cost of recharging a Tesla in the States may be greater than refuelling a petrol car, if done on the Tesla supercharger network.

  1. Broadlands permalink
    November 16, 2020 8:14 pm

    “It is after all the stated aim of climate zealots in Parliament and elsewhere to cut the amount of travel we do in our cars. What better way to do it than make it unaffordable for the average driver to use his car on a regular basis?”

    What better way? Simply eliminate biofuels and all of the jobs that the petroleum industry provides. Replace ethanol corn and sugarcane with solar panel farms. At zero emissions in the end, there will be no new roads or repairable roads to drive on because of the absence of both asphalt and concrete-cement. And no arable land for growing food for the increasing human population. Unanticipated climate change collateral damages are waiting by the truckload.

    • Ben Vorlich permalink
      November 16, 2020 9:35 pm

      Not without its problems already.

      Is a methanization unit responsible for the pollution of a pond in Saint-Brice-sur-Vienne?

      For months, in Saint-Brice-sur-Vienne, the pond of a retired couple has been the victim of disastrous pollution. According to them, the methanizer of a neighboring farmer is responsible.

      They had never seen this since they moved to La Malaise, in the town of Saint-Brice, in 1975. Since May, Claude and Mireille Silvy have been facing recurring pollution of the pond on their property.

      Black and frothy water, gelatinous deposits, nauseating odor, dead fish … This retired couple helplessly witnessed the degradation of their little corner of paradise. “It was a real place to live. Our children and grandchildren fished and bathed there again last year, “they say.

      Large areas of Limousin are being turnover to crops for these projects, they seem to grow two crops per year. Maize spring to autumn and possibly rye autumn to spring. The fields are replanted almost at the same time as harvested, within a few days. Fields were previously half-a-dozen smaller fields for sheep and cows.

      • November 17, 2020 9:50 am

        If someone were to compile a list of all the failures and associated pollution incidents at anaerobic digester facilities, it would make for shocking reading.

        And the amounts of biogas contributed to the system are probably trivial.

  2. GeoffB permalink
    November 16, 2020 8:17 pm

    It as all going to end badly, I will be 102 in 2050, so as it is unlikely that I will be around, I am going to book a full page advert in the guardian on January 31st 2050. Large letters

    • Graeme No.3 permalink
      November 16, 2020 8:23 pm

      Aren’t you assuming that The Guardian will be around in 2050?

      • Dave Ward permalink
        November 16, 2020 9:45 pm

        I would think there is a significantly better chance of GeoffB still being around in 2050 than the Grauniad…

  3. Harry Passfield permalink
    November 16, 2020 8:19 pm

    As I understood it, the EU planned to launch the Galileo GPS network (typically, late) which would allow for vehicle tracking and mileage charging (Big Brother, anyone?) and the UK was paying towards it (Chris Booker wrote many columns about it). However, while we were planning to leave the EU I recall that the EU negotiators threatened at one point to prevent the UK have access to the network. That being the case, I wonder how HMG intend to track many millions of vehicle miles and bill them accordingly. And, would you have confidence in a government ever getting the bill right? Furthermore, would anyone believe that the police/state would not have deeper access to the data recorded?

    • bobn permalink
      November 16, 2020 8:50 pm

      Galileo GPS is another elitist boondoggle. The EU wanted its own toy rather than continue using the USA provided GPS (the one we use today). Galileo was so obviously a needless duplication that NATO said it wouldnt help pay because it was uneccessary, but the politicians went ahead cause they love toys. Now UK is out of it (are we getting a refund set against the EU leaving bill? If not why not?), and our extravagant politicos are talking about building another UK one – that we dont need.
      How can we stop all this waste? Hmm, maybe Nigel Farage has some ideas because all the buffoons in Parliament are clueless!

    • In the Real World permalink
      November 17, 2020 1:49 pm

      All new vehicles in the EU have had trackers fitted since 2015, so it it possible ” Big Brother ” has had this idea in mind for a long time .

      The fact that over 90% of all goods movements in the UK are by road , & a large proportion of all businesses use roads , means that the cost of everything will go up by a large amount . Which means that everyone , even those who do not drive , will finish up paying a lot more .
      If you look into the possibilities , it will show that private motorists might not pay much more than now if they reduce their mileages , but the costs for business will go up by huge amounts , which must be passed on to the customers .

    • Russ Wood permalink
      November 19, 2020 4:04 pm

      In Johannesburg, all established homes have electricity and water meters. Nevertheless, it’s a common problem of getting totally RIDICULOUS bills in some months. For example, our cluster of 40 retirement cottages suddenly got a bill out of nowhere for over a million Rands worth of water usage. (like about 20 years’ worth!). Now, if a local government can’t manage something as simple as THAT, how could ANYONE ever trust a larger congregation of incompetents to manage something as complicated as mileage charges via satellite?
      And just HOW would someone prove that they WEREN’T on the M6 on Saturday night?

  4. Ian Magness permalink
    November 16, 2020 8:21 pm

    What will happen to the present type of road tax on petrol cars as paid by most of us now? If, as I fully intend, you keep hold of your petrol car well past the cut-off date for new vehicles, will you have to pay the original car and new mileage taxes combined?
    I suspect we know the answer.

    • Chaswarnertoo permalink
      November 17, 2020 9:04 am

      It’s the 200 % tax on road fuel you should object to, more.

  5. Graeme No.3 permalink
    November 16, 2020 8:21 pm

    The South Australia government has started the rush and will introduce a road usage charge for electric vehicles from next year.
    Here comes the GOOD PART! Owners of electric vehicles would be expected to keep a log book and report the travel amount by telephone.

    • Ian Magness permalink
      November 16, 2020 11:02 pm

      What could possibly go wrong?

  6. markl permalink
    November 16, 2020 8:31 pm

    GPS tracking is already being used in many places for law enforcement and business needs. It would be simple to put a tracking device on every vehicle. If they would remove the road tax from fossil fuels used for ICE vehicles there could be equity in who pays what.

    • Harry Passfield permalink
      November 16, 2020 9:49 pm

      Who’s to say that tracking devices are not already designed into the EV fleets to come? Me? Paranoid? You bet.

    • Dan permalink
      November 17, 2020 9:47 am

      Indeed. This is standard for learner and early drivers in the UK.

    • sonofametman permalink
      November 17, 2020 10:37 pm

      Small Faraday cages are not hard to devise.

  7. richardw permalink
    November 16, 2020 8:32 pm

    Letter sent to my MP:

    I write to express my complete opposition to the Chancellor’s plans for road charging to raise tax revenues, for the following reasons:

    1. Transport is already one of the most heavily taxed activities. If road charging is simply added to this, then it may well be that transport usage will decline to a point that reduces overall tax revenues leaving little net benefit.
    2. Electric vehicles should be taxed so that, progressively, they contribute as much as a conventionally fuelled car to the Treasury. If the statements over the years from the Department for Business about the rapidly declining costs of renewable electricity generation are true, then this will allow electricity to be taxed for road use in a similar way to conventional fuels without increased costs for the road user.
    3. Transport costs are an important component both of business costs and household costs. Any significant increase would be inflationary and reduce commercial competitiveness.
    4. A tax such as road charging favours the entitled elite over those who are on low incomes; people’s freedoms and opportunities will be limited because they can no longer afford to travel. This is hardly a levelling up of the poorer areas of society.
    5. In order to implement a road charging scheme, there will need to be large scale public sector investment in infrastructure and systems to support it. Given Governments’ dreadful track record of obtaining value from such projects, this is likely to represent a very large cost that will need to be recovered.

    Yours sincerely etc

    • Keith Holland permalink
      November 17, 2020 11:11 am

      Don’t hold your breath for a sensible reply. I wrote to my MP a year ago challenging the wisdom of electric cars. I got a reply back written by the Ministry of Transport that was the biggest load of rubbish and lies I’d ever seen, and that coming from a Government Ministry. Sent copies to Paul and GWPF and they were equally surprised.

  8. stevejay permalink
    November 16, 2020 8:34 pm

    They’re talking of £1.50 per mile. It would take £390 to visit my grandson. I have a small, very economical ,(petrol) car, most of the time I use less than a gallon a week. I feel this tax is to pay for all the £billions this government has wasted on useless green energy projects.
    I can see plenty of protests and demonstrations about this, especially from people in rural areas.

    • Harry Passfield permalink
      November 16, 2020 9:52 pm

      Got to be wrong. Ave mileage is 10k. By your calc road tax equivalent would be £15,000. Perhaps you’re thinking 1.5p/mile.

      • stevejay permalink
        November 17, 2020 2:26 am

        The figure I’ve seen is up to £1.50 per mile.

      • Phoenix44 permalink
        November 17, 2020 8:45 am

        Assuming it replaces both fuel tax and road tax it should be somewhere around £800/year which is 12.5p/mile. So maybe “up to” 15p.

    • Beagle permalink
      November 17, 2020 8:25 am

      The £1.50 a mile is from the Labour Party back in 2008 when they were looking for a different way to charge motorists. It was suggested the mileage charge was between 2p and £1.50 a mile, depending upon time of day and congestion. There was an immediate outcry and the idea was quickly dropped.

  9. Up2snuff permalink
    November 16, 2020 8:56 pm

    What will happen to that particular Treasury income stream when the next Pandemic and Lockdown is declared by WHO?

    They really haven’t learned any lessons from the current Pandemic and Lockdown.

    How stupid is that?

    • Chaswarnertoo permalink
      November 17, 2020 9:41 am

      They are very stupid. Dunning Kruger in action.

  10. Penda100 permalink
    November 16, 2020 9:01 pm

    £40 billion is the entire tax charged on motorists. £34 billion is Fuel Duty plus VAT and £6 billion comes from VED. Unless the intention is to do away with VED the proposal represents a £6 billion tax grab. If VED is abolished and replaced by a flat rate per mile road charge, drivers of large expensive cars will be further benefitted compared with owners of smaller, cheaper vehicles. My money would be on the £6 billion tax hike.

  11. cassio21 permalink
    November 16, 2020 9:23 pm

    Could not cars – indeed all vehicles – pay differing levels of road tax according to their size, weight and power, if each vehicle were equipped with a device that reports its mileage – each day – to a central monitor ?

    • Chaswarnertoo permalink
      November 17, 2020 9:06 am

      They do, it’s called fuel tax.

  12. David permalink
    November 16, 2020 9:27 pm

    At £1.50 per mile it would cost me £792 for a round trip to my cottage in Wales! I suppose Plaid Cymru will be rubbing their hands with glee!

    • OldCynic permalink
      November 16, 2020 11:35 pm

      David, you have put your finger on an essential problem.

      To raise £40 billion at £1.50 per mile will require motorists to drive 27 billion miles.
      However, the mileage that will actual be driven is not “inelastic”, (as the economists say).

      I expect that the public will curtail severely their “optional” driving (like you going to Wales).
      So maybe the scheme will raise only £30 billion (less the cost of administering it, of course), so that mileage rate would have to be increased again.

      Of course, with drivers not making all those optional trips, they may well not end up spending the money that they would have spent at their destination. So your village in Wales suffers from a lack of tourists, with no-one buying ice-creams or other local expenditure.

      It would be interesting to see the Treasury model of the impact of the introduction of a £1.50 per mile tax.

      The only good thing to come out of this “proposal” is that it may make people start to realise what “nett zero” really means, and that may bring demands for a Brexit style referendum on whether the electorate wants to accept such a policy. Nigel Farrage, where are you now?

      • alexei permalink
        November 17, 2020 1:03 am

        “Nigel Farrage, where are you now?”
        He seems to be saying he doesn’t intend to let Boris ruin the country without opposition –

      • jack broughton permalink
        November 18, 2020 12:14 pm

        The treasury models have shown their low quality many times, especially in 2008/9 and over Brexit. When will people realise that mathematical models give the answers that the modellers and their controllers want them to give. They are not based on physical laws so can easily be “adjusted” to produce the required outputs.

        Most mathematical models work well for small perturbations but are useless at predicting large change responses. Climate and economic models both have very serious limitations that the press and politicians refuse to consider.

      • Russ Wood permalink
        November 19, 2020 4:13 pm

        Of course, one could always do their holiday travel by train, as we did in the 1950’s. Oh, yes. Now there’s a problem…

  13. JustAskin' permalink
    November 16, 2020 9:41 pm

    This is a serious question, not a snide/smart-arse one.

    Does anyone have an idea of the economics of a pony and trap?

    Sure, it would be hopeless for long distances, but for going to the shops might it be an economic alternative?

    (It’s a shame that there are unlikely to be any Amish readers of this web-site)

    • David V permalink
      November 17, 2020 1:39 pm

      Ruinously expensive – don’t even think about it. Stables, blacksmith, vet bills, insurance, etc.

  14. Ian Miller permalink
    November 16, 2020 10:46 pm

    The totalitarian tyranny of a vicious and angry government acting against its own people, no less. This is what is facing us all these days.

    • Phoenix44 permalink
      November 17, 2020 8:50 am

      It is the totalitarianism of smug mediocrities believing they are the cleverest people on the planet. Disdainful of ordinary people with ordinary concerns they impose their simple-minded fantasies on everyone, congratulating themselves on their own virtue.

  15. stevejay permalink
    November 17, 2020 1:36 am

    Paul, what makes you think this ISN’T political suicide, even a 15 mile journey to work would cost £225 a week! There will be a revolution.

  16. November 17, 2020 4:38 am

    Reblogged this on Citizens.

  17. StephenP permalink
    November 17, 2020 8:09 am

    Let’s go back to the beginning, why are we proposing to do all this with its phenomenal increase in administration costs?
    In New Zealand owners of diesel cars do not pay tax on fuel at the pump, unlike petrol, but every few months pay a mileage charge at the post office.
    This eliminated the need for all the boondoggles and tracing of people’s movements, and could be checked for accuracy/honesty against the car’s mileage when doing the annual MOT test as is already recorded now.
    Another problem not addressed is what do we do with the mass of foreign lorries delivering stuff from abroad on our roads? Presumably we could check their mileage in and out and impound the lorries until the tax is paid! (Rather like having to pay the departure tax when flying out of New Zealand.)
    (In case any New Zealanders reading this say that I am out of date on this I apologise, it is a few years since I visited NZ. Wonderful country then.)

    • StephenP permalink
      November 17, 2020 8:19 am

      It has just struck me that what is proposed is rather like the smart meter rollout.
      A stupidly expensive way of reading electricity meters, when all it takes me now is couple of minutes to read the meter every four months and reply to a reminder email from my electricity company.
      I already have an OWL monitor, that cost me £25 ten years ago, which tells me all I need to know about my electricity usage.

      • Mad Mike permalink
        November 17, 2020 10:58 am

        Yes, but the real reason for smart meters is to be able switch off supply at individual addresses. The same could be done with cars. Pay up or we’ll switch your car off.

  18. Phoenix44 permalink
    November 17, 2020 8:39 am

    In many ways this is a sensible way to tax cars if the aim is to largely hypothecate car taxes. Why should we have to pay simply to own a car? I don’t pay to own anything else – except perhaps a TV thanks to the BBC.

    The trouble is it then can become an instrument of control, allowing governments to price our choices as they see fit.

  19. Coeur de Lion permalink
    November 17, 2020 8:52 am

    It would take a mere ten per cent to quarrel with the assessment or to refuse to pay for the whole system to collapse into chaos with an exponential increase of defaults as the buzz gets around.

    • Russ Wood permalink
      November 19, 2020 4:26 pm

      South Africa widened some of the main commuter roads around Johannesburg and Pretoria/Tshwane, which cost about 3 times as much as normal road-building would. After that the Gauteng provincial government paid an ENORMOUS amount to set up the “E-Toll” system that would scan number plates and charge accordingly. People would install transponders in their cars so that their bank accounts could be charged automatically.
      This did not work.
      Only road users who could pass the toll charges on to their customers installed the transponders. Everyone else got a monthly toll account through the (hah!) post, usually received about three months after the early payment date. Apparently only about 15% of regular users of these newly-tolled roads actually PAY. Very successful, especially considering that the operators are in Sweden, and all these fees that MUST be paid by the SA operator have to be paid in non-SA currency!

  20. November 17, 2020 9:47 am

    This was discussed yesterday on R4’s PM. Did the Beeb find one voice in favour and one against? You can guess the answer to that. In the Green corner we had the AA’s Edmund King, and in the Greener Still corner we had ?Sian ?Berry the Green candidate for London Mayor. The duo proposed two slightly nuanced versions of the same thing. I was left wondering why Edmund King and his Automobile Association should betray their members in this way. Should they rename themselves Against Automobiles? That way they could keep the AA logo.

    Road charging follows inexorably from the logic of Net Zero, which sceptics see as falling down before it begins, at the premises it assumes:

    1) If we don’t curb CO2 emissions human civilisation will come to an end.
    2) The UK’s only responsible move in this context is to become a Net Zero emitter of carbon dioxide.
    3) Road transport has to be Net Zero (as does electricity and heating).
    4) Combustion engines have to go.
    5) Fuel duty and vehicle excise duty will shrink to zero.
    6) To make good the losses the only answer is road charging.

    It seems obvious to me (and I assume most here) that rather than apocalypse, carbon dioxide emissions might lead to a modest warming, which is hardly likely to do other than benefit countries like the UK that are too cold most of the time. Therefore rather than an absolutist Big Fat Zero approach, we could undertake cuts to CO2 that are proportional to the “problem”.

    • Philip Foster permalink
      November 17, 2020 3:24 pm

      Whether CO2 causes warming or not remains mute: it hasn’t been demonstrated.
      But more CO2 is of huge benefit to the biosphere which is seriously short of this vital plant food. Better plant growth, more food, less starvation: a win win.

  21. William Birch permalink
    November 17, 2020 10:45 am

    Headlines in the papers saying motorists ok with road charges provided uk government does not use it as a cash cow. How pathetically naive. When Ken Clarke former chancellor was asked in later life about the green escalator tax on petrol he laughed and said it was all about raising tax revenue, the green bit was just a convenient way of making it more acceptable

  22. Philip Foster permalink
    November 17, 2020 3:19 pm

    This was/is the purpose of Galileo. Every car fitted compulsorily with a transponder which tracks your every movement, charges you for every mile and fines you for every speeding infringement.

  23. Devocamel permalink
    November 17, 2020 7:33 pm

    As usual the car is the target. Slammed as the ultimate polluting monster and CO2 emitter (NOT the same thing), our political class need cars to justify huge taxes to fund their aspirations.
    Paul you are right. We will be taxed to a standstill and then the coffers will soon be empty.

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