CAR Magazine recently surveyed more than 1,000 motorists to ask if they’d ditch high-CO2 vehicles in the wake of the Budget’s tax shake-up due in 2010.
The results were surprising. The majority of drivers – 76% in fact – said that even the top-whack £950 first-year tax for vehicles emitting more than 255g/km of CO2 wouldn’t put them off. Most said that if they could afford to buy a model falling in the highest tax band, then they could probably afford to stump up the extra cash.
Just one-fifth of respondents said the new fiscal measures were harsh enough to stop them from buying another gas guzzler.
This worries me. Motoring taxes are the Government’s main instrument for changing driver behaviour, but it seems ministers still can’t get it right. On the basis of this survey, the Budget seems to be more about raising revenue than changing motorists’ choices.
Opposition MPs claim Britain’s drivers will be £1.6 billion worse off. The changes aren’t revenue neutral – which is the only fair way to redistribute motoring levies.
If I were chancellor, I’d make bigger cuts to encourage the cleanest cars. We still need to discourage the dirtiest, granted, but there has to be a clear and long-term vision for this country’s transport taxes. It’s utterly unfair that these plans will retrospectively hit people who bought cars in the past few years. How were they to know Labour would escalate their tax bills so enormously?
This Government has already swamped us with enough confusing rhetoric to last a lifetime. Should we plump for biofuel cars? Or will they just be another dead end like LPG proved to be? And who’d buy an electric car in this climate of uncertainty?
We need long-term certainty if any of us can plan our next purchase or our business strategy.