Early last month, Sadiq Khan announced his plans to increase the cost-of-living burden on Londoners. Instead of being content with the ultra-low emissions zone (ULEZ) applying to motorists in central London, he wants to force drivers to pay – no matter where they are in the entirety of Greater London.
It is worth reflecting on what an insidious tax this is. First introduced in 2019 in central London – ostensibly to tackle air quality issues – the tax penalises those who own a diesel car produced as recently as 2015 – £12.50 a day to enter the zone. This is despite the fact Labour in government themselves had promoted and encouraged the public to go diesel via a series of tax breaks from 2001.
We should be under no illusions: these plans are a tax that will hit lower income families the hardest. What makes the expansion worse though, is that it will become an entry charge in all but name for those wishing to travel into even the furthest-flung parts of London. This is a divisive measure that will disrupt whole communities and families, affecting up to 40,000 car drivers.
Now, who are those who are going to be hit hardest by this tax? Those on lower incomes, those who cannot afford to upgrade to a fancy new car, those who have been hit hardest by the rising cost-of-living. It will punish those who are already struggling with the cost of living.
He may not realise this, stuck in his central London bubble, but this daily cost of £12.50 will make travel simply unaffordable for many people in outer London and beyond. The average monthly food bill for a family of 4 in the UK has been estimated as £654 – this is an amount that many already struggle to reach. If the Mayor goes ahead with his proposal, driving to work anywhere in London in a non-ULEZ compliant or exempt vehicle is likely to cost more than a third of that food bill (£250). This a huge amount of money for people to be losing every month.
I live in Hornchurch – an area of London that is only a short distance from the eastern edge of Greater London and the rest of Essex. Many of us rely on our cars to get around, to go to work, to visit friends or family and for various other essential activities. Then think of those who do all the same things, but instead of going out of London or staying solely within London will be coming into the Greater London area from outside. Making London’s boundaries have hard tax barriers to entry will destroy the community atmosphere of outer London with people freely travelling in and out of London for work and social events.
This is a stealth tax on both outer London families and those who do not even live in London. How can it possibly be fair that the Mayor of London is allowed to raise taxes on people who cannot vote on his policy and proposals? Whatever happened to the maxim, no taxation without representation?