Following pressure from Labour MPs and council leaders, the Mayor of London has decided to extend the Ulez scrappage scheme so more Londoners are entitled to financial help. This will be in place from the end of July and will be run by TfL.
Specifically, financial support will be provided to those with small businesses and those on low-incomes. City Hall has put in place a £110m scrappage fund for replacing old non-compliant vehicles, and although under new plans this amount has not changed, accessibility has been widened.
Ulez: the new plans outlined
According to Sadiq Khan, the majority of vehicles in London are already compliant with Ulez framings so will not endure any extra costs when the boundaries are expanded to outer London in August. Khan stated that London already has the largest scrapping scheme in place, but he recognises the “concerns of people who may not have a compliant vehicle and are worried about how they’ll make the transition”.
Under new plans, there will now be support for Londoners receiving child benefit (874,410 families, with 578,315 of those outside of London) businesses registered in London with fewer than 50 employees (a change from 10), London-based charities looking to scrap or retrofit up to 3 vans or minibuses (a change from 1) and care workers. The mayor’s office said the scrappage scheme would “be kept under ongoing review”.
This decision came as various Labour politicians such as Feltham and Heston MP Seema Malhotra and Mitcham and Morden MP Siobhain McDonagh expressed concerns that their poorest constituents would suffer financially when the clean air scheme expanded to outer London boroughs. Moreover, Erith and Thamesmead MP Abena Oppong-Asare, and Lewisham West and Penge, MP Ellie Reeves, called for an urgent review of what additional support could be provided for families and businesses.
TfL recently released figures which show that there are 280,000 cars registered in outer London that are non compliant. There are also 80,000 vans that are non-compliant which totals almost half of all vans registered to addresses in outer London. Political rivals therefore argue the scrappage scheme does not go far enough. Conservative London Mayor hopeful Paul Scully said “The bare minimum is giving more Londoners access to the scrappage scheme. The right thing to do is scrapping the Ulez expansion all together.”
Conservative London Assembly Member for Bexley and Bromley, Peter Fortune, referred to the scheme as “unnecessary” and “money-grabbing”. On a similar note, the leader of Bexley Council, Cllr Baroness O’Neill of Bexley OBE, said if the mayor “had taken notice of the results of his own consultation”, he would have realised more people needed support. Bexley is one of the five Conservative-led councils that have already launched legal action over the expansion of ULEZ.
“The reality is that he could have consulted on a scrappage scheme that would have made a difference, and his announcement today is too little, too late.” She added the scrappage money offered is “not sufficient to replace vehicles that have effectively become worthless as a result of his expansion proposals”, and the proposals would still have a “detrimental impact” on areas like Bexley, “where we have limited public transport”.
She continued: “We once again call in him to see sense and withdraw the proposals and spend taxpayers’ money on something that will make actually make a difference.”
Although Sadiq Khan has not increased the scheme’s funding, the move to provide more accessibility will help people to change their vehicles without facing financial burden.
Criticism for Khan often mirrors typical anti-environmental and exaggerated mantras used to prevent change. They ignore the impacts of air pollution and attempt to brand the policy to have the ULEZ expansion as ‘undemocratic’.
Along with the need for clean air, the expansion of the boundary is necessary to tackling the climate crisis – last July saw London’s hottest temperature on record and various fires across the city. Under Sadiq Khan’s pledge to make London a zero-carbon city by 2030, the ultra-low emissions zone acts as an incentive to encourage those who have not yet switched their vehicles, to do so.
Sadiq Khan was elected on the basis that he would introduce a range of green environmental provisions for the city, if the Conservatives oppose these measures, they need to win an election to stop them.