Look at all those forrin’ trucks, coming over here, using our roads. Using them for free, too!
Foreign trucks don’t pay to use our roads we British drivers pay an annual fee to licence our vehicles to use them where as over in Europe they have a system of tolls. The British have a contract, with unlimited miles included, where as the Europeans have a Pay-as-You-Go system, if you like.
This, for us, is indeed not business friendly for the haulage industry, as the British vehicles have to subsidise the wear and tear, and damage done to the roads of foreign vehicles, whilst British hauliers, even if the vehicle is abroad the majority of the time, have to pay British road tax and all the tolls and charges of the European countries they visit.
So what’s the British government proposing?
A proposal to charge foreign-registered lorries up to £10 a day to drive on the UK’s roads is due to be outlined.
The government says the current system is unfair and is launching a consultation on the plan.
Foreign hauliers drive around the UK for free, while UK firms pay road tolls or daily rates to drive across Europe.
Legally, ministers cannot discriminate between UK and EU lorries so all trucks will be charged up to £10 a day, but British hauliers would get a refund.
That sounds fair enough, doesn’t it? Two things jumped out at me though.
The first is why complicate things with having this charge *and* road tax *and* giving a refund? It’s a recipe for disaster. Incorrect charging, missed refunds and all sorts. Why not simplify the system by getting rid of the road tax for commercial vehicles and apply the daily charge to *all* commercial vehicles in the UK? I understand this is just a proposal so they probably haven’t thought past the picking a daily figure out of their arse, but the more times money is passed back and forth, the more likely it is something will go wrong, and if it’s gonna go wrong it’s gonna be the haulier that will get fucked by late refunds and appeals and shit like that.
The second point is up to £10 a day! That is a huge amount. I would bet my hat that no commercial vehicle pays that amount at the moment. I realise this is just a proposal, and that it is *up to* £10 a day, but that is way out, even for a proposal that has been thrown out the door to see what reaction it gets.
The licencing of commercial vehicles is not the simplist of things, as there are so many different types of vehicles, and combinations of different types of vehicles with so many different uses. I had a quick squint at the direct.gov.uk website about the cost of licencing a HGV and the biggest charge for road tax on a truck was £2585 per annum. Have a look for yourself if you want, here. This works out to £7.08 per day for a very large load vehicle with no Reduced Pollution Certificate. For even bigger vehicles that tax wouldn’t go up much, and if fact dropps dramatically, because they are not used *all* the time or are just used for the beginning and end legs of journeies, where the middle bit of the journey is by rail of water.
For the more usual class of HGV (3 axle tractor, 2 axle trailer, with reduced pollution Certificate and road friendly suspension) the figure is twenty quid shy of £1600. This works out at £4.33 per day. Less that half of what could be charged under this proposal.
The UK cannot dicriminate between UK and foreign trucks, so the charge will have to be the same (for each class of vehicle) whether a UK truck or one from abroad, so it is not going to be simple case of collecting cash as the truck rolls off the ferry. Why make it more complicated with having the road tax and refunds in the mix?
This could be good. the extra cash raised from the foreign trucks, at no cost to UK ones, would help the government coffers. If the government was feeling generous (stop laughing at the back!) they could drop the daily rate, still have the same income (due to more trucks paying) and that would help lower some of the costs the UK haulage industry which is already struggling to keep it’s head above water due to fuel prices.
But if the government can’t even have a look to see what trucks are currently paying per day to go out on a policy proposal, then I can’t really see then doing this a) the best way or b) not fucking it up whichever way they decide to do it.
And no post about trucking would be complete without a song…