Transport for London (TfL) is introducing a scrappage scheme that offers £2,000 if people take older polluting vehicles off the road. We’ve spoken to some experts who think this might be a mistake.
Why does TfL want cars off the road?
From August 2023, Greater London will be an Ultra Low Emissions Zone. This means pre-Euro 6 diesel cars (before 2015) and pre-Euro 4 petrol (before 2006) will have to pay a £12.50 daily charge. Rather than paying this, TfL would prefer people complied by driving less polluting cars – or didn’t drive at all.
Is it targeting the right people?
CAP HPI specialises in used car valuations. Its head of forecast strategy Dylan Setterfield tells us: “People who meet the criteria for scrappage support are not likely to be driving a car around in the first place. If they are and scrap their non-compliant car, £2,000 isn’t sufficient to buy a car that does meet the ULEZ criteria.”
It’s a good point. To take advantage of the ULEZ scrappage scheme, you need to be on a selection of benefits such as income support or job seeker’s allowance.
It’s not a lifestyle choice for those on lower incomes to drive old and polluting vehicles; they do so because there’s no alternative. It does rather feel as if the £2,000 is a rather crude bung to get them off the road.
Philip Nothard from consultant Cox Automotive adds: “It’s aimed at lower income people who aren’t big buyers of cars. Middle income earners are the key buyers and they’re getting no support at all. It doesn’t make sense.”
The £110m TfL has earmarked for the scrappage scheme is targeting sole traders, businesses with up to 10 employees, or charities with a registered address in London. This offers them a grant of between £5,000 and £9,500 to scrap or retrofit their van or minibus that doesn’t meet the ULEZ standards.
Setterfield says: “Then there are the people who live outside the zone but go in and out of it. In London they get no support. When TfL talks about retrofitting, I think people will struggle to find a retrofitter to bring a car up to ULEV compliance. With the cost-of-living pressures, it’s the wrong time to be doing this.”
He’s right. It does seem to be unfair that a tradesman who works in London but lives just outside can’t get the grant, when his possibly more expensive, less talented rival who lives a few miles away in Greater London can.
What about the cars it’s targeting?
There’s a shortage of used cars thanks to the pandemic and semi-conductor supply problems. It’s just those poorly emitting vehicles, that TfL wants to scrap, that are in short supply. The eight to 10-year old vehicles that it’s primarily aimed at are diesels made before 2015. CAP HPI says the prices for 10-year old cars have gone up 10% in the past 12 months.
Then there’s the fear that we might be losing historically significant vehicles. Wayne Scott from the Federation of British Historic Vehicle Clubs says: “From a historic and heritage point of view, some really lovely historic vehicles are lost to schemes like this. During the last government scrappage scheme we saw people who didn’t know what a car’s value was financially or culturally.
“Then once a dealer submits a car for scrappage it can never be used again, even for parts. It didn’t make sense then and it doesn’t make sense now.”