London’s Conservatives have today written to Mayor Sadiq Khan urging him put £50m from City Hall’s business rates reserves towards reopening scrappage schemes for vans and heavy vehicles ahead of the expansion of the ULEZ zone.
Although Khan has so far provided £61m to drivers looking to trade in non-ULEZ compliant vehicles, the van and lorry scrappage schemes were suspended last summer after being oversubscribed.
In a letter, Susan Hall, leader of the London Assembly’s Tories, said that freeing up the money could allow 7,000 vans, minibuses and HGVS to be taken off the road.
“We believe that City Hall’s business rate reserve should be used in these exceptional
circumstances to invest in TfL’s scrappage schemes”, she wrote.
A City Hall spokesperson said that using the business rates reserves would be “highly irresponsible”.
“This would allow you to offer £50m in new grants to help Londoners on benefits, the disabled, small businesses and charities scrap non-compliant vehicles.”
The letter comes three months before the ULEZ zone is set to be expanded. From October 25, it will cover the whole area between the North and South Circulars.
The average daily charge for a car that does not meet new emissions standards is £12.50, in addition to the congestion charge.
The proposals met with the approval of the Federation of Small Businesses, which said that firms who wanted to do “the right thing” could not afford to replace their vehicles without assistance.
Michael Lloyd, Federation of Small Businesses London Infrastructure Chair, said: “Small businesses have been faced with an unprecedented set of financial and emotional challenges in the last 15 months.
“Small businesses want to do the right thing by the environment and help improve the air quality, however, we must be understanding that in these current times many simply cannot afford to replace their business vehicles.
“FSB is working with all political parties to urge for the reintroduction of Transport for London’s scrappage scheme for vans and minibuses that was extremely popular over two years ago and provided a ‘welcome carrot’ to firms.”
Earlier this month Khan unveiled an extra £5m to help low-income or disabled Londoners scrap older cars and motorbikes.
Before they were closed, the scrappage schemes offered Londoner’s £15,000 to replace or retrofit heavy vehicles and £7,000 to van and minibuses owners.
A spokesperson for the Mayor of London said: “Sadiq recently announced an additional £5 million funding to support disabled and low-income Londoners to scrap older, more polluting vehicles, bringing total investment in scrappage scheme up to £61 million. These schemes have been incredibly successful, helping replace or retrofit over 10,000 vehicles.
“The schemes to help charities replace minibuses and low income and disabled Londoners scrap or replace privately owned vehicles remain open to new applicants. The Mayor continues to call on Government to further support the switch to cleaner vehicles through funding a targeted national scrappage scheme. Sadiq’s additional investment in London’s scrappage scheme has been made without Government, unlike the scrappage schemes supporting Birmingham and Bath’s Clean Air Zones which have received significant Government support. This is despite the fact that Londoners are paying hundreds of millions of pounds in Vehicle Excise Duty every year, even though only a tiny fraction of it is spent in the capital.
“This Business Rates Reserve money is effectively the GLA’s emergency savings. Spending it when Covid-19 means future income levels are so uncertain would be highly irresponsible and could lead to future cuts to police and fire funding to balance the books.”