Smart road pricing set to arrive as road tax shortfall looms

A shift away from Vehicle Excise Duty and towards so-called smart road pricing is being touted by MPs

motorway gantries

A complete overhaul of the road tax system looks set to come into force, as the UK government looks to plug a £35b hole in its accounts caused by the popularity of low-tax vehicles.

As UK consumers begin to make the shift to electrically powered transport options, the government is left with the headache of how to redress the balance. A cross-party Commons select committee has warned that unless action is taken sooner rather than later, the UK faces a congested and under-funded road network.

To combat this, a new system of smart road pricing is being discussed. A paper released earlier this month outlined the plans, describing a revenue-neutral plan, whereby most motorists pay the same amount that they are paying now. Those road users travelling the greatest distance will be charged the most, while drivers of all-electric and hybrid vehicles will now be asked to shoulder some of the burdens of road repairs and maintenance.

While some motoring groups have welcomed the move to a more modern taxation model, some are warning against making the new system over-complicated and costly. That final point is one that brings the whole idea into question. For the system to work, either ANPR cameras would be needed to log vehicle movements, or tracking systems would need to be fitted into vehicles. With both of those avenues some way off at the moment, it does make us wonder how far into the future this change really is.

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