Pay-Per-Mile Concept No Longer Politically Toxic

According to new research, the idea that drivers should have to pay-per-mile is no longer a politically toxic one…

Pay-Per-Mile No Longer ‘Toxic’

The pay-per-mile concept, once reviled by drivers, is no longer as politically toxic as it once was. That’s the verdict of new research conducted by the Social Market Foundation (SMF), which has concluded that motorists have become more open-minded towards the potential policy. Its survey of 3,000 drivers discovered that most of them regarded current road and fuel taxes as so “unfair” that pay-per-mile would largely be welcomed as a better alternative.

Pay-per-mile, also referred to as ‘road-pricing’, is the idea of charging motorists for using particular roads or on the basis of their mileages. Some commentators regard it as necessary, as the Treasury is due to lose out on billions worth of fuel duty revenues; largely due to the rise of electric vehicles. Politicians have typically avoided discussing it since the 90s, when Blair’s Labour government was forced to scrap the idea following a voter backlash. At the time 1.8 million people signed a petition against the plan.

‘A Better, Fairer System’ 

Scott Corfe, Research Director at the SMF, believes the public wants, and is ready for, a ‘fairer’ system. He said, “for too long politicians have thought of reforming motoring taxes as grasping the nettle; fearful that a backlash from drivers will hit them at the polls”. He added, “in reality, the public want to see a better, fairer system of how the UK taxes drivers. Our research shows that road pricing, often perceived as politically poisonous, is seen as a preferential option compared to our existing tax regime”.

Corfe concluded, “Britain needs a system of road taxes fit for the 21st Century; and the age of the electric vehicle. It is vital that ministers recognise how far public opinion has shifted on road pricing over the last two decades. Voters will not punish them for seeking an equitable reform of motor taxation”.

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