The number of untaxed cars on Britain’s roads has tripled since the paper tax disc was abolished, Government figures have revealed.
In 2017 an estimated 755,000 vehicles were without Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) – commonly referred to as car or road tax. That equates to 1.8 per cent of all vehicles, up from 1.4 per cent in 2015 and 0.6 per cent in 2013, just before changes to the VED system.
The Department for Transport, which released the data, estimates that this could be costing the Government as much as £107 million a year through lost revenue.
“More drivers are now prepared to try their luck, or are simply forgetting to tax their vehicle”
Nicholas Lyes, RAC
Motoring groups have been quick to suggest that the abolition of the paper tax disc in October 2014, as well as changes to rules governing the transfer of VED when a car is sold, are behind the rise in evasion.
RAC public affairs manager Nicholas Lyes said: “Clearly, since the tax disc was abolished in 2014 there has been a significant increase in untaxed vehicles on our roads. The Treasury noted that abolishing the paper tax disc would save £10m, however it is now seems the changes are proving extremely costly.
“It appears that having a visual reminder was an effective way to prompt drivers into renewing their car tax – arguably more drivers are now prepared to try their luck and see if they can get away with not paying any vehicle tax at all, or are simply forgetting to tax their vehicle when they are due to.”
Mr Lyes also pointed to figures which showed that a third of unlicensed vehicles had changed hands in the past year and suggested this showed that many drivers were unaware that tax no longer carries over when ownership changes.
The figures show that cars and light commercial vehicles make up the bulk of unlicensed vehicles, accounting for 79 per cent of offending vehicles. They also show that the number of people driving cars that have been declared off the road has soared. Vehicles with a Statutory Off-Road Notice made up just one per cent of unlicensed cars in 2015, in 2017 they made up 12 per cent.
The RAC has warned that unless action is taken to clamp down on evasion work to improve the country’s roads could be directly threatened.
Mr Lyes commented: “From 2020, Vehicle Excise Duty receipts will also directly fund improvements to our strategic road network, so it is vital every effort is made to make sure we tackle evasion so our road network does not lose out on essential investment.”