No wonder “green taxes” have a bad image

Yesterday the Opposition highlighted the great Vehicle Excise Duty take away. Brought to you by the same people who doubled the income tax rate on the lower paid, they have thought up another unpopular wheeze to lift an extra £2.5 billion from motorists as if we were not paying enough already.

Deep in the small print of the budget was the fact that the large increases in VED would apply, not just to new cars, to put people off buying the larger and sportier vehicles, but also to older cars where there is no such element of choice. Even Labour MPs now see how unpopular this could prove to be when it comes into effect next year.

If you own a car which emits 161-165 grams of carbon per km (where are the miles the government said they had protected for us?) your VED will go up from £145 to £175, an increase of more than 20%.

If you own a car with emissions of 201-225 grams, you will have to pay 43% more, a rise from £210 to £300.

If your car puts out more than 255 grams, the rise will be 10%, from £400 to £440.

The government have dared to “sell” this idea as a green tax, which will limit carbon output from vehicles by persuading us to buy greener cars. Yet the government’s own figures say that, as a result, UK vehicle emissions of carbon will fall by just one seventh of one percent, a figure so small that it could be lost in the estimating error. Their forecast for a stonking 130% increase in tax revenue from this source shows they know it will not change behaviour, just swell the Treasury coffers.

This is no green policy. This is another milk-the-motorist policy, from the people who have brought us rip off petrol prices (with an added 70p a litre of tax!), rapacious parking charges and congestion charges. There is also their enormous speeding fine revenue from a system so complicated and perverse that you need to be a bad driver to be able to comply with it, watching your speedo so often whilst scanning the horizon for the speed signs rather than the road ahead.

The average motorist already pays £1,800 a year for his or her motoring, and does not have an extra £90 available to pay to the government just to keep the car on the road. Government Ministers, firmly insulated from these costs in their Ministerial cars, just think they can clobber the motorist again. Yesterday’s performance from Treasury Ministers goes to show they have still not understood just how people are being squeezed, and how fed up they are with a government which takes all their money.

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9 Comments

  1. Stuart Fairney
    Posted May 15, 2008 at 9:55 am | Permalink

    Indeed, it's even worse than that. If you own a family car that does 5,000 miles per year, you emit far less, (even at 255gms per Km) than you would if you owned a smaller car doing say 15,000 miles per year.

    The way to tackle this would be fuel duty but two problems

    1. It's too noticeable and politically unpopular
    2. Fuel is already very heavily taxed when no practical alternative exists for many of us (I promise you, I do not enjoy over an hour on the congested M3 going to work in the morning, to pay my 40% income tax!)

    So, it's hide the tax rise ~ again. Once again, all about politics and tax rises at a time when the whole CO2/global warming thing is looking increasingly threadbare considering the planet hasn't actually got any warmer in the last decade.

  2. Cliff
    Posted May 15, 2008 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

    A tax is a tax is a tax. Green taxes of the type discussed will just penalise, yet again, the poor. They cannot afford to go out and buy a new green car. With the way our tax hungry greedy government is going, the fuel in the tank is going to be worth more than the older car.
    I see it has been reported locally that, thieves have started to steal the contents of fuel tanks.

    In my view, we should put the whole of the green/climate change agenda on hold until after we know how deep the economic slowdown is going to be. It is sheer madness, to land our already over taxed people and business, with even more tax that will make business even less competitive than it is now beneath the burden of rules, regulations and taxation from both Westminster Nanny and Brussels Nanny.

  3. L Taylor
    Posted May 15, 2008 at 4:42 pm | Permalink

    Sadly the government has been getting away with these "stealth taxes" for a number of years. I believe however the tide has turned against them. As to how long it will take to repair the damage inflicted on the country it remains to be seen. I personally have never been convinced by the arguments put forward to defend "global warming." The cynic in me believes that neither has Labour, but what better way to impose a raft of new taxation under the guise of "saving the planet" who could object?

  4. Steven_L
    Posted May 15, 2008 at 6:46 pm | Permalink

    I did buy a ‘green’ car, a modern 6-speed Mazda 6 diesel, it chucks out 165g/Km which used to qualify for the reduced £145 tax bracker.

    I’m paying 10p a litre more for my fuel than a petrol user even though I’m doing about 15mpg more than the petrol equivilent.

    Now they clobber me with a tax hike too. That’s really going to help Gordon win my vote back. How low in the polls can he go I wonder – 24%, 23%, 22%, perhaps less than 20% at this rate!

  5. mikestallard
    Posted May 15, 2008 at 8:29 pm | Permalink

    What we see at grass roots level, is a great number of MPs who seem to have little experience of anything outside the Students' Union travelling round in their limos complete with chauffeur. Tony Blair's appalling example of having 4 houses runs down through the serried ranks.
    OK the MEPs are even worse, we know that.
    But this means that New Labour has absolutely nothing to do with the poor, the downtrodden, the ordinary people of Great Britain.

  6. DennisA
    Posted May 15, 2008 at 9:34 pm | Permalink

    I already pay £175 VED for my 10 year old Citroen Xantia estate, which I need for its carrying capability, but cannot afford to replace.

    In West Wales, diesel is now 124-127 p per litre. My nearest rail station is 30 miles away, there are buses theoretically every two hours, except when those buses are on the school run. First bus 8-30am, last bus 6-0pm. I don't use the bus.

    I have a dental appointment next week, fortunately it is NHS, but unfortunately it is 60 miles away, the nearest practice taking NHS patients.

    If a company were making windfall profits, the government would be seeking to claim some of it. They must be making megabucks from the fuel tax windfall, plus the extra VAT, tax on tax, yet they quite cynically blame global conditions for everything.

    This is the government of the "less well off", seeking to reduce poverty.

    They are actively creating it.

    Having just qualified for a small occupational pension, I am now on the edge for the 10p up to 20p tax rise. Raising the personal allowance for one year to get through a by-election is an insult.

  7. adam83
    Posted May 16, 2008 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

    the purpose of green government is to destroy our economy.

    The economy is built on consumerism
    which is incompatible with sustainability.

    Call the greenie meanies off because the economy is uncertain, you say Cliff?
    Pile more misery on those greedy westerners, they say. The worse the economy, the better the environment.

    Remember these be lefties, they hate the successful.

  8. Adrian Windisch
    Posted May 16, 2008 at 7:58 pm | Permalink

    One problem is too many cars on the road, the answer is to improve public transport. Another is to reduce emissions, to persuade people who need cars to get ones with fewer emissions. My car costs me £35 a year in road tax, it is comfortable in town or on the motorway, is cheap to run and gets 65 mpg. Why do people need bigger more powerful cars, its a status symbols that is so 70s.

  9. beachhutman
    Posted May 16, 2008 at 10:02 pm | Permalink

    Anyway, the emissions bands are a con trick and a lie. All CO2 is formed from fuel put into the tank, together with oxygen already in the air. It follows that a 40mpg car CANNOT produce the same CO2 per mile as a 20 mpg car. It is scientifically impossible. But the treasury insists (my) 38 mpg Ford Ka is as polluting as a 18 mpg Chelsea tractor. They think we're all stupid, sheep waiting to be shorn.

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    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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