UK car tax rises ‘won’t work’

Published: 29 May 2008

The UK Government’s proposed tax rises won’t deter drivers from picking a high-CO2 car, new research by CAR reveals. We surveyed more than 1000 motorists and asked if the new charges – quadrupling the annual tax bill for some cars – would put them off so-called gas guzzlers. Surprisingly, 76 percent of drivers said it wouldn’t deter them one jot.

Chancellor Alistair Darling unveiled sweeping changes to the UK’s car tax system in his March 2008 Budget, under which the most polluting cars will be hit by a £950 first-year tax. However, CAR’s research suggests that even this draconian rise will not work.

Just a fifth of the motorists polled said they would never buy another high-CO2 car because of the new charge, but the vast majority said it wouldn’t stop them. Our findings suggest that the Government’s planned reforms are more about raising cash than changing drivers’ behaviour…

The survey results in detail

CAR asked 1052 drivers: ‘Would the UK Budget’s £950 purchase tax stop you buying a car emitting over 255g/km of CO2?’. The answers, published today, were:

Yes, I will never buy another gas guzzler again, 214 votes (20 percent)
• I would think twice but if I can afford this type of car, it would not stop me buying, 439 votes (42 percent)
• Not sure, 44 votes (4 percent)
• Definitely not. This tax is a dip in the ocean over the life of the car, 355 votes (34 percent)

The changes outlined in the Budget will introduce 13 tax bands. Click here for a full analysis of the 2008 Budget.

Cars slotting in to the top bracket and emitting more than 255g/km of CO2 will be hit with a £950 purchase supplement in the first year (£455 of which is VED). Not enough, it seems, to alter drivers’ behaviour.

What should the Government do? Click ‘Add your comment’ and tell us what you would do if you were Chancellor

By Tim Pollard

Editorial director of CAR's digital publishing arm. Motoring news magnet