Transport Minister Norman Baker predicts the end of vehicle tax, big cuts in fuel duties and a new system of road tolls for every mile travelled. Speaking in the Sunday Express he would like a new system of road pricing where “there would be no difference in overall costs for the average motorist”.
The thing is that you and I are probably not “the average motorist”. In fact very few people are! In theory as I own two vehicles I should be quids in under his preferred road pricing system as I can only drive one at a time and yet have to pay up for two tax discs. Others, especially those with a long commute to work will probably end up paying a whole load more.
A simpler solution would be to simply add the cost of the tax disc to fuel on a pay as you go model. However any increase to the current fuel duty prices probably isn’t politically acceptable. The Transport Minister’s solution is to fit a black box to every vehicle in the country to monitor which roads they drive on and then bill the motorist. The cost to supply, fit and maintain the boxes would be astronomical, plus it opens up questions of privacy – is the government entitled to monitor when and where you drive?
Quite how the revenues will be raised is the less important issue though, the bigger problem for the Exchequer is that with more economical petrol and diesel vehicles along with electric cars revenues are falling. It’s a hard sell to convince people that any change would be revenue neutral, especially bearing in mind the costs of implementing the changes which someone has to pay for.
Of course many Tamebay readers will be small businesses, often working from or close to home. However online retailers (and online customers) are likely to be seriously impacted by any changes from the humble tax disc to a pay per mile model. Every single parcel we ship has to be collected by van and driven via distribution hugs to our customers. Couriers most definitely will not be “average motorists” for whom any change will be revenue neutral. Ecommerce will be well and truly stung by the proposed changes.
Changing the way our use of the roads are charged would affect the cost of everything from – not just courier costs. It would affect you and your staff commuting to work, deliveries of stock and even the cost of the humble Royal Mail stamp.
What method of charging for road tax would you prefer? The current road fund license known as the tax disc, a per per litre model on fuel, or a black box pay per mile model based on when and where you drive?