UK freeways - only for wealthy?

2012-10-29 19:41

LONDON, England - Drivers might have to pay higher road tax for using motorways they've already paid for under a plan being considered by the British government.

Does that sound like SA, or what?

The Daily Mail reported that the radical idea was being considered as the UK Treasury faces a budget shortfall caused by families switching to cars that incur lower road tax. Which, of course, is what the government wanted - less CO2 emissions and road congestion.

Two rates of road tax would apply: a lower tier for users of secondary roads and a higher charge for those who want to drive on the nation's extensive motorway networks and other major routes. Spy cameras would catch people drivers using the faster roads without having paid for it.


The AA warned that a two-tier duty system could see motorways become the preserve of wealthier people while the hoi polloi who had contributed to the roads' construction since the 1960's would be excluded.

Spokesman Paul Watters said: "We don’t want a first and second-class system on the roads. There would certainly be more traffic and, if enough traffic diverted, it would stick out like a sore thumb.

"It would lead to slower journeys and more congestion. It would also be an extra nuisance to towns and villages and increase the risk of accidents as A-roads become too busy."

The prime minister has already said private organisations could take over the running of roads in return for pay-as-you-go lanes or a share of road tax revenue. SA again?


A senior UK government source confirmed the two-tier idea was one of a number of proposals to reform a vehicle excise duty regime that raises the equivalent of R85-billion a year.

The source added: "It is true that there is work going on on vehicle excise duty, it follows on from what we spoke about earlier in the year, about making the roads more like utility companies and getting external sources of money into them. There is a suggestion that as part of that you could have a lower vehicle excise duty rate for people not using trunk roads and motorways.

"However, charging people who do use motorways a lot more is not politically attractive and reducing rates for people who don’t would mean raising less money overall. It’s difficult and the work is not concluded yet. This is not about making people pay more." Sure...

Labour claimed the coalition UK government was preparing to unleash a stealth tax on drivers already hard-hit by high fuel prices.


Another possibility being examined by ministers is to shake up the road-fund banding system. Currently, tax is paid on a sliding scale of 13 bands from zero to more than R14 000 in the first year of registration. Drivers pay according to how much carbon dioxide their car pumps out.

Another option is to replace the annual road-duty charge on cars with a one-off, upfront charge on new vehicles. A proposal to link the amount motorists pay in road tax to how far they drive on motorways, or their use at peak times, has been ruled out.

Stephen Glaister, director of the RAC Foundation, said reforming road tax could be acceptable if it led to better journeys for motorists.

“Ministers would go a long way to restoring trust among drivers," he said, "if the proceeds were ring-fenced and ploughed back into road provision.”

The idea for overhauling road tax is part of a review by officials at the Department for Transport and the Treasury which was ordered by Downing Street in March. Prime minister David Cameron said he wanted to kick-start the economy by allowing companies and investment funds to compete to build and operate and maintain motorways and trunk roads.


Vehicle users would not pay tolls to use existing roads that would effectively be privatised, though firms could create extra pay-as-you-go lanes that drivers could use to beat congestion. Read: if you don't want to be caught up in traffic, pay up...

A proportion of the Treasury’s annual R85-billion in vehicle excise duty would go to contractors, probably based on the number of vehicles using the route.

A report from the Institute for Economic Affairs, published in October 2012, calls for the state to privatise the entire road network, raising more than R2500-billion.

Motoring taxes should be phased out altogether and replaced with road tolls, it says. Road users would pay less under a privatised road network than they do now and would have a better network, the report claims.

It suggests tolls would be "as little" as the equivalent of R0.53/km on a new motorway, the Daily Mail reported.


Richard Wellings, head of transport at the IEA, said: "For too long British drivers have had to pay over the odds for a road network that is simply not up to scratch. It's lamentable that this vital area of infrastructure has been neglected by government after government. De-nationalising the network would ensure better roads.

"It would also be much cheaper and end the enormous burden of motoring taxes such as fuel duty.”

A transort spokesman said: "The government has made clear it will not implement tolls on existing road capacity and has no plans to replace existing motoring taxes with pay-as-you-go road charging."

He said the roads review was looking at increasing capacity and boosting economic growth.

  • lala.kunene - 2012-10-29 20:25

    No ways......

  • David Steyn - 2012-10-29 20:42

    People drivers? Really News24! Do they have other types of driver in the UK?

      joe.soapie.73 - 2012-10-30 08:34

      That one really stood out for me - had to read it a few times, lol.

      Triumphant - 2012-10-30 09:25

      Yes, the article said so :)

      joe.soapie.73 - 2012-10-30 11:15

      So when I next visit relatives in the UK, I can ask them about these mysterious non-people drivers that my country's online news paper reported the UK as having. \o/ I'll take pics.

  • thefat.canarie - 2012-10-29 20:45

    In the UK one has efficient alternatives ... the British Rail system... In South Africa we hve the bankrupt TRANSNET and unsafe trains due to criminals... and then we have GAUTRAIN for the affluent ... In the UK we knwo how the money will be spent ... in SA the money will layer the pockets of corrupt government officials - who has no values and no morals and led by a uneducated president elected by an illiterate populus.

      rob.bayliss.94 - 2012-10-29 21:01

      and to round off that comment, in SA, not only is there no shame for the corruption, it has become a status symbol (blue ligts etc!)

      pholux.molefe - 2012-10-29 21:57

      \illiterate populous\ wow.\r\n\r\nWhy are you acting as if South Africa has a history of accountability? Corruption has always been a problem in South Africa even with the old (NP) government who was voted by the supposedly \literate\\r\n\r\nIts amazing how white people want an educated black president as if their system made provision for that.

      dintwe.mohutsioa - 2012-10-30 08:17

      Was it necessary to take the racist route? Ask yourself whether your comment is building or breaking, you could have said/typed something better than the hot air you blew. And if we are going to talk real issue how about using your real names not that FatCanary thing, grow a pair

      frank.vankaapstad - 2012-10-30 09:25

      @pholux It is amazing how often people like you defend the current Government's extraordinary levels of corruption by referring to the old Government's corruption, as if the way "our" current leaders are destroying our country is justified by events in the distant past. It is this acceptance of corruption by people like you that will keep inept corrupt fools in charge of this country and it will only prolong the process of trying to uplift the entire nation.

      joe.soapie.73 - 2012-10-30 11:19

      // Was it necessary to take the racist route? Ask yourself whether your comment is building or breaking, you could have said/typed something better than the hot air you blew.// I didn't see any racism - please show me? (I'm not challenging you in the argumentative sense, I'm genuinely curious because "THAT'S RACIST! >:O" was not the first thing that came to mind. // And if we are going to talk real issue how about using your real names not that FatCanary thing, grow a pair // I personally do not own a "real" Facebook account so I created this one; however, I don't want to publish my name and face across the interwebs - it's my choice and my right, I have a pair, like a really big pair - Venda style but being a private person does not make me any less of a man nor does it make me a coward.

  • trevor.bush.9655 - 2012-10-30 05:57

    There is an easy fix to ALL our problems, stop people from breeding like flies...control birth rates and EVERYTHING will improve!

      Triumphant - 2012-10-30 09:53

      Well, actually no. If you did then you would have a rapidly aging population problem in the next 30 years where a much smaller younger population is expected to look after an older population not passing on owing to better health care, etc. So you would have a heavily burdened under funded Social System not able to recoup enough resources from a smaller working class. For this to work properly you need about 30 - 40 people working to every one retired, at moment it's more like 2 - 6 working for every 1 retired since we all have much smaller families now.

  • Triumphant - 2012-10-30 09:25

    So what next, you take the bus and the bus ticket gets expensive ?

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