The number of vehicles which have not been taxed on Britain’s roads has more than doubled, since the decision was made to scrap paper tax discs back in October last year. This is according to the first official study which has taken place. The survey was carried out at the roadside back in the summer at over 250 locations across the country. It found that 1.4% of vehicles were unlicensed, in comparison with 0.6% two years ago- equating to around 500,000 vehicles without valid tax.
The Government estimates that this figure will lose them around £80m a year as a result, compared to £35m in previous years. This loss is much higher than the £7m loss that officials predicted when it was announced that they were planning to scrap paper tax discs. Owners of a vehicle can no longer tell if their tax is in date by looking at their windscreen, but instead they must go online to a database which is run by the DVLA. This new system is said to be most confusing for buyers of a used car, as previously a car remained licensed until the tax disc ran out without it mattering how many times it changed hands. Since the disc was scrapped, tax is automatically cancelled when a vehicle is sold or changes ownership. It’s the responsibility of the new owner to tax it or they risk a £1000 fine.
The DVLA said that it does send reminders out to those who forget to tax their vehicle, but many aggravated drivers complain that they have never been notified of the new rules.
The Chief Engineer of the RAC said of the figures:
“These are very worrying and disappointing statistics indeed. Sadly, the concerns we raised about the number of car tax evaders going up at the time the tax disc was confined to history have become a reality. We cannot afford for this to increase again for the sake of both road safety and the country’s finances.”
However, the Chief Executive of the DVLA defended the policy, stating:
“Almost 99% of all vehicles on the road are correctly taxed: that’s around £6bn in vehicle tax passed to the Treasury every year. We write to every registered vehicle keeper in the UK to remind them when their tax is due and we have introduced a range of measures to make vehicle tax easy to pay. At the same time we are taking action against those who are determined to break the law.”