After fighting off plans to expand the existing congestion charge out to the North and South circular roads, there is now a suggestion that there could be a London-wide charge to drive a car.

It’s probably not a serious suggestion, but part of the political fighting going on between the Mayor and the government over funding to keep TfL running over the next couple of years.

At the moment, although TfL is responsible for the maintenance costs of the main roads in London, revenue from Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) paid by Londoner car owners goes to central government. TfL is expected to cover the road maintenance bill out of its own resources as it doesn’t receive a road specific budget.

The dispute long predates the current funding crisis at TfL and has been simmering away for several years.

The Mayor of London’s office estimates that Londoners pay around £500 million a year in vehicle excise duty – that’s out of the roughly £6 billion raised from the tax nationally. However, the “road tax”, as it’s often incorrectly described doesn’t fund roads and is just rolled into national government taxes, with road maintenance coming from general taxation.

As an aside, when cyclists are told they don’t pay to cycle on the roads, well, they do, in the same way that everyone does — via general taxation.

As the VED goes into central government’s general tax pot, the Mayor’s argument that the GLA/TfL should keep revenues paid by Londoners for London specific spending could, however, be seen by HM  Treasury as a landgrab for more local tax-raising powers.

The argument does put pressure on central government though to remember that a lot of spending that is funded by the government outside London is borne entirely by Londoners within London.

It also means that at the moment, public transport passenger fares, which make up the bulk of TfL’s income are in effect covering the cost of major road maintenance within London, which does seem somewhat backwards in a more environmentally aware world.

In a move, that’s more likely to be publicity stunt than actual policy, TfL has been told by the Mayor to investigate the feasibility of a new Greater London Boundary Charge for non-residents which would apply to vehicles registered outside London which are driven into the capital.

According to the Mayor’s office, their initial estimates suggest a charge of £3.50 a day would raise, entirely by coincidence, £500 million a year – the same being paid at the moment in vehicle excise duty by Londoners.


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  1. Azam Hussain says:

    More then 80
    percent people of United Kingdom can’t afford to go to London people from North are barred this what it means

    • ianvisits says:

      To be fair, if you can afford the petrol to drive half way across the UK to London, then a £3.50 charge isn’t going to be a problem.

  2. Edward says:

    So we are free to roam but have to pay to enter a part of this “free” land with goods that the gov profit on via tax’s like ved, tax gained from insurance premium, tax from fuel duty, tax on labour and parts when repairing them plus the countless road side fines drivers are issued (police are a government agency so technically goes in the e same pot ,its bordorline racism as the way this article is written if your not a londoner you got to pay,
    Its racism as they are putting the charge on people who reside elsewhere which is treating people different because of where they live,
    No different to treating a african different to a uk born person, if they are both in the same country they should be treated equally

    • Richard says:

      Racism is an absurd charge, because it is based on where vehicles are registered (which you can, and people do, change) not on any characteristic of the person, or an arbitrary fact of where they were born (which you cannot change).
      Of course if you don’t come in a private car, causing dangerous levels of air pollution and risking the lives of other road users in the process, you won’t pay any of these taxes.

    • corrie says:

      If transport for London stop digging up all the roads and putting bike lanes and reducing the roads by extending the pavements to accommodate buses and stops the traffic flow transport for London could also improve air quality you would not be starting and stopping every few minutes

    • corrie says:

      If transport for London stop digging up all the roads and putting bike lanes and reducing the roads by extending the pavements to accommodate buses and stops the traffic flow transport for London could also improve air quality you would not be starting and stopping every few minutes

    • ianvisits says:

      As TfL hardly ever dig up roads as they have no real need to do so – I am not sure why you would claim that they are.

  3. Buk lau says:

    Robbing bastards everything about London is a rip off

  4. Kenneth A. Harman says:

    Thank goodness there are motorists that can be hit time and time again and pay for any monies that any bodies require to fund!!

  5. Asad khan says:

    Ok we can pay 3.50 but is there any Guarantee we will be able to drive on London road? The car stops more than drive there are too many signals and road are so narrow that you hardly fit your car especially after the coronavirus. The car owners are cash cows for the government. You road tax on top new charges but you don’t have right to drive. The cyclist and pedestrians have more rights than cars.

  6. Andrew Gwilt says:

    I think that’s a absolute cheek from Transport for London. Be better off avoiding London by road and use trains instead. I think that’s unacceptable.

  7. Louis Stavri says:

    This is an attack of freedom of movement ,the next thing will be a tax on walking on the pavements.
    Cyclist should pay a tax and all these illegal road users such as electric scooters etc.

  8. John Watkins says:

    As a Greater London resident, there really ought to be (extra) taxes for owning (or using?) a car within London. Driving a car should be seen as a privilege – it is NOT a “right”.

  9. Andrew Thomas says:

    I actually think this is a good idea, the reactions are entirely predictable but I don’t see it happening due to that general reaction.

    I agree it is just a part of the political maneuvering but should it come to pass, its not a bad idea at all.

    Suggestions of reducing public transport services within Greater London though could be a slippery downhill path, and introducing such a charge would have to come before any transport cuts, especially in such a large and mobile city.

  10. Someone says:

    As long as we can charge Londoners when they invade our town in the summer, that’s fine, as it means we are quids in. We don’t want to visit the shitehole that’s called London.

    • Paul says:

      “We don’t want to visit the shitehole that’s called London.”
      And Londoners don’t want arseholes like you here either. Do stay away please. We won’t visit your shitty nowhere town either, don’t worry.

  11. Andrew Thomas says:

    Be careful what you wish for, some towns could end up looking quite different without non locals putting money in to the local economy every year. The local council probably does alright from parking charges as well.

  12. JM says:

    Such an overreaction to this. I do think that the charge covering all of greater London is unfair as many parts are poorly served by public transport, particularly for outer London orbital journeys. It will also impact homes and businesses in outer London that trade with the rest of the country. For example, if you work somewhere like Kingston but live outside London, getting the train probably isn’t practical from most places. But I do think the majority of inner-London journeys are made by people who don’t really need to drive. It’s a choice and a privilege that you should pay for. And if your job relies on driving around London, fair enough, your employer should pay the charge or put you in an electric vehicle.

  13. harry says:

    £3.50 seems quite low for bringing a vehicle into London, but the real problem will be that in many directions there probably aren’t stations immediately outside the perimeter with adequate parking and sufficient train capacity to reduce the need for cars to come in. And even with parking and train capacity, the train fare would probably be more than £3.50 per day.

  14. Simon Woolf says:

    Just heard about this and yet another stupid idea to tax every simply for using their car in Greater London, when one already pays tax on their fuel, vat on car repairs, insurance premium tax on insuring the vehicle and the road tax….. and it is also double dear to park in London. I have already given up my membership of British Museum because of the £15 charge to travel in on a Sunday and will give membership of Kew Gardens if this £3,50 charge is levied.

    There is not the network of public transport to move around Greater London in the same way. Sadly I cannot vote on the mayor yet as someone who lives outside London, must suffer the taxes he would implement. I have just watch a really interesting chap who is bidding to become mayor for the Conservative Party and I do hope he wins because he has some really interesting ideas on Gang culture having worked in a Youth Centre and agrees these taxes on coming into London by Car are going to stop people from spending in London.

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