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£61m scrappage scheme to help Londoners for Ulez has ‘run out of cash’

Evening Standard logo Evening Standard 4 days ago Ross Lydall
Ultra Low Emission Zone expansion © PA Ultra Low Emission Zone expansion

A scrappage scheme to help Londoners avoid paying the ultra-low emission zone charge has run out of cash.

Transport for London announced that £61 million made available by Mayor Sadiq Khan had all been allocated after being massively oversubscribed.

Almost 2,000 drivers are believed to be awaiting payment after scrapping their car while many more are waiting to see if their application has been accepted.

It also emerged yesterday that more than nine in 10 vehicles driving within the Ulez zone, which expanded to the suburbs on October 25, comply with the emission rules and are not liable for the £12.50-a-day levy.

TfL finance chief Simon Kilonback said “compliance rates are 91 per cent”, which will result in TfL pocketing £600 million less than hoped in Ulez levies and fines over the next three years.

Mr Khan offered low-income and disabled Londoners £2,000 to scrap a car, or £1,000 for a motorbike that would breach the Ulez rules.

Small businesses were also offered help to trade in vans while there was a scrappage or retrofit scheme for HGVs, charity coaches and minibuses.

An email to London Assembly members said: “I am writing to let you know that all TfL’s scrappage schemes have now closed for new applications as all available funds have been allocated.

“Over the past two and a half years these scrappage schemes for older, more polluting cars, vans, minibuses, motorbikes and heavy vehicles have proved very popular, helping thousands of Londoners and small businesses to prepare for the Ulez and its expansion.”

TfL said 8,000 cars, 5,200 vans and minibuses, and 120 HGVs and coaches had been scrapped. By November 8, 23,300 applications had been received to the car and motorbike scheme. Of these, 9,370 were accepted and 7,600 payments had been made.

TfL said: “For those Londoners who have already applied to a scrappage scheme, we aim to contact them within 10 working days with the status of their application.”

Nick Rogers, a Conservative member of the London Assembly, said closing the scrappage scheme less than a month after Ulez expanded from central London was “deeply irresponsible”. He said: “Thousands of low-income and disabled Londoners who asked for help haven’t received it.

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“Without help, they face a brutal choice: pay £12.50 a day or fork out for a new vehicle. Unless Khan reopens these schemes, Ulez will punish the poorest in London and thousands of polluting vehicles will remain on London’s streets.”

Caroline Pidgeon, Liberal Democrat member of the London Assembly, criticised TfL for failing to give notice that the scheme was about to end.

She said: “The abrupt end for applications to the vehicle scrappage scheme for disabled Londoners and low income households is not how such a scheme should operate.”

A TfL spokesman said that motorists whose applications had been accepted would receive a payout. He said that 91 per cent compliance was only being achieved on some days, with an average rate of 87 per cent.

Alex Williams, TfL’s director of city planning, said: “Following enthusiastic uptake and after taking more than 13,000 polluting vehicles off the road, all funds have now been committed.

“The scrappage scheme has contributed to the high compliance rates in the expanded Ulez zone, which saw 87 per cent meeting the tough emission standards on launch. It is expected that the expanded Ulez scheme will result in a fall of around 30 per cent in harmful nitrogen dioxide across the capital.”

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