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Pocketbox: What Road Pricing Means For Tax Payers in Britain

In October 2021, the British Government published official reports detailing a proposal which would see a transformative overhaul of the UK economy and its tax system as the country looks to seek out strategies to tackle the global climate crisis. Following the COP26 summit, where over 150 countries committed to the terms of the Paris Agreement to become a net zero greenhouse gas emitter by 2050, governments worldwide sought to establish new infrastructure to cope with the demands of the agreement. Understanding the urgency of the climate situation, the UK, which is one of the world’s biggest carbon emitters to date, has set an ambitious promise to reduce emissions by 2030, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson underlying a new Ten Point Plan specifying an ‘Green’ Industrial Revolution. According to Gov.uk, the blueprint will “mobilise £12 billion of government investment, and potentially 3 times as much from the private sector, to create and support up to 250,000 green jobs”.

So, what does this mean for the future of the transport infrastructure and how will this affect you as a vehicle owner? With recent changes imminent to the Highway Code, the Government looks set on keeping their promise to make the roads (and the world) greener, meaning it is likely billions of investment of tax payers’ money will be funnelled into improving public transport via walk and cycle schemes and the  electrification of zero emission trains, buses and cars. With the Electric Vehicle (EV) industry growing, and Britain leading its global community, the demand for effective EV charging infrastructure to be completed by 2030 and the source of the investments have been a cause of concern for the public and politicians alike.

The UK Treasury, while remaining coy due to expected backlash in the polls, have flirted with the idea of ‘road pricing’. This essentially charges road users more on tax depending on different variables like how environmentally friendly their vehicle is, charging for travelling during peak times of traffic, and a pay-per-mile system via a GPS tracking system in your vehicle. Policy analysts have criticised the government’s passive approach in introducing tax reforms, stating that “this reluctance has reduced the government’s ability to pursue wide-ranging reform”. Furthermore, a recent survey by the Social Market Foundation suggests that public sentiment surrounding road pricing isn’t as bad as once thought, with around 40% of around 3000 participants “now support road pricing to replace road and fuel duties” to enable a “the better, fairer system of how the UK taxes drivers”. It will be interesting to see how Government initiatives tackle this matter and resolve the confusion and uncertainty for the British tax payer surrounding the 10 Year Plan and the need for infrastructure transformation. 

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