Cleaning up London’s air is obviously a good thing, but with thousands of people affected by the expansion of the ULEZ, the authorities have recognised that it puts them at a significant disadvantage.
People – typically at the lower end of the wealth spectrum – will undoubtedly be the worst affected. They’re more likely to be driving older, non-compliant cars, so incentivising them to trade up to something less polluting, and even an EV, is the idea behind the new scrappage scheme.
In fact, to be eligible for a grant of up to £5000, applicants need to live within one of the 32 London boroughs (obviously) and receive one or more benefit. These include Universal Credit, Carer’s Allowance, Child Tax Credit, Income Support and many more. It’s a broad spread and will capture most people on lower incomes.
So, what can those who are eligible get for their non-compliant cars?
Sadly, the money isn’t exactly going to bring EVs into the grasp of most of the claimants. Scrapping a car will pay the owner £2000. That magic £5k figure is only for those who scrap a wheelchair accessible car or van, though £5k is available for people to retrofit a compliant van with wheelchair access, too.
Getting people out of cars is another element of the scheme, with options to get £1600 for a car plus one adult-rate annual bus and tram pass, or £1200 plus two adult-rate annual bus and tram passes. These passes are worth good money and provide unlimited free transport, so they’re potentially the most cost-effective option.
Something else that applicants should be aware of is that the scheme affects means-tested benefits. Therefore, some applicants could end up out of pocket – and out of their car – if they don’t do their homework first.
Cleaning up London’s air is nothing but a good thing for residents’ health. Incentivising people to get cleaner cars is obviously a necessity given that some people simply won’t be able to afford to drive without a grant of some kind. However, offering a nominal amount of money – which isn’t all that much – doesn’t improve the chances of many applicants buying an EV or PHEV, each of which helps clean up local air quality. What’s more likely is that those using the scheme simply buy a slightly newer, but still highly polluting, petrol or diesel vehicle.
To us, that doesn’t feel much like progress.
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