FairCharge found that a total of £104.5 million has been spent on grants through the Electric Vehicle Homecharge Scheme (EVHS) since its inception in 2014. Obviously a positive use of cash, the EVHS has helped EV owners to install charge points at their homes through grants which – in the past – have been large enough to cover the installation cost.
The public charging equivalent – the On-street Residential Charging Scheme (ORCS) – was established more recently, in 2017, and has seen the DfT spend just £6.8 million funding projects to allow people to charge publicly. For context, local authorities can apply for funding through ORCS to install public charging infrastructure in their area.
In terms of raw numbers, some 236,697 domestic charging devices have been installed through the EVHS compared to just 2039 through the ORCS. Of course, the three-year difference in the schemes’ ages accounts for some of the disparity, but it’s still a huge imbalance which has seen many people benefit, but a significant proportion fall behind.
FairCharge highlights the fact that just over a third of households in England lack access to off-street parking. Whilst we at Discover EV would argue that any fund which helps households to switch to EVs is money well spent, it does beg the question of fairness and the government’s true commitment to hitting net zero by 2050. We can also argue that it massively favours a demographic that will typically be better off – i.e. homeowners with off-street parking – over those for whom access to affordable, public charging might be the difference between going EV or sticking with internal combustion.
To add some perspective, those who don’t have off-street parking could end up paying over £700 per year in charging compared to closer to £150 for those with off-street parking – according to the Resolution Foundation think tank.
Of course, the government is soon to be committed to helping even fewer people to switch to EVs thanks to the fact that it is limiting the EVHS’s scope even further with single-unit properties no longer able to apply for any DfT funding.
Then there’s the fact that numerous EVs are no longer eligible for the plug-in car grant since that, too, was cut to £1500 for cars up to just £32,000, so barriers to adoption are being erected almost as quickly as they’re being knocked down.
Quentin Willson, the former Top Gear presenter who is leading the FairCharge campaign, commented: “Of course, the EVHS has been great in that it has led so many to make the switch to EVs – but it can’t be right that there is such a big a gap between public money spent supporting off-street and on-street charging. Figures like this add to the feeling that some have that EVs are the preserve of the wealthy.
“If the transition to net zero is to be successful then it must be fair. When it comes to EVs, it just isn’t fair that those who have access to driveways or garages have so much more Government help to support their charging needs than those – on-average much poorer – people who do not. Our FairCharge campaign is aimed at preventing exactly this sort of injustice.”
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