There is a well known disparity amongst those involved in haulage work in the United Kingdom. It’s also a reason that the U.K. is popular amongst foreign drivers. The disparity is this: while UK registered Heavy Goods vehicles have to pay vignette charges or tolls in just about every European country they visit, foreign drivers don’t pay a penny to drive on British roads, thanks to the costs being covered by the tax levied directly upon U.K. drivers. This has been the root of some frustration for several years, especially as more and more countries in the European Union have introduced charges. This makes Britain a discount driving destination while costing the U.K. – both in terms of costs to business engaged in haulage work and in term of missed out taxation.
The Government’s Plans
Currently in the consultation stage, the British government is looking into ways of addressing the imbalance. Amongst industry bodies, the Freight Transport Association has long been vocal in its support for such a scheme. Although, this has always been closely linked with the proviso that the rates of taxation already levied on U.K. hauliers isn’t raised significantly, further increasing the pressures upon those in haulage work.
The current plans include the following:
- A road user charge would be introduced that would apply to both foreign and U.K. registered HGVs that weigh 12 tonnes and over;
- This charge would be applicable to HGVs being driven on any road in the United Kingdom (charges would be subject to a sliding scale based on the weight of the vehicle, type and number of axles);
- The charge levied on road users would vary from around £85 a year for smaller HGVs, up to over £1,000 for the largest vehicles on the road;
- U.K. owners would pay the user charge at the same time and as part of the same transaction as road-tax;
- Operators of foreign registered vehicles would be able to choose how they pay: daily, weekly, monthly or annually. The proposed daily rate is somewhere around £10 per day.
What it Means for British Hauliers
Due to E.U. rules, the scheme is unable to discriminate between British drivers and those from elsewhere in the European Union. However, to mitigate for this, the British government have said that drivers will be compensated for the extra costs – this is necessary in order to reduce to burden upon those employed in haulage work in the United Kingdom. The maximum extra cost is reported to be around £79, with methods of reducing this open to operators.