Sadiq Khan is to offer grants of £2,000 to every Londoner whose car does not meet the standards of the capital’s Ultra-Low Emission Zone as part of a £50 million increase in his scrappage scheme for supporting compliance with the policy prior to its expansion to the whole of Greater London on 29 August.
The Mayor has again confirmed the expansion will go ahead as planned following the rejection last week of a legal challenge by five Conservative-run local authorities, including four London boroughs, and in the wake of Labour’s narrow defeat in the Uxbridge & South Ruislip by-election last month, which party leader Keir Starmer blamed on the policy.
Khan has drawn on City Hall’s financial reserves to increase the size of the scrappage pot from £110 million to £160 million, enabling the Mayor to also increase the sums already available to businesses, charities and disabled people for replacing, retrofitting or adapting vans and minibuses.
Some of the added features of the scheme will come into effect straight away and others, including the £2,000 grants across the board, not until 21 August, eight days before the expansion begins.
Changes announced from 4 August:
- Small businesses and charities with non-compliant vans will receive £7,000 towards replacing them, an increase from the previous £5,000.
- Grants for wheelchair accessible vehicles will go up from £5,000 to £10,000.
- Grants for scrapping minibuses will increase from £7,000 to £9,000.
- Grants for replacing non-compliant vans with electric vans increase from £7,500 to £9,500.
- Grants to replace a non-compliant minibus with an electric minibus increase from £9,500 to £11,500.
- Retrofit grants increase from £5,000 to £6,000, which City Hall says is “typically enough to cover the whole cost of retrofitting”.
Changes announced from 21 August:
- Every Londoner with a non-compliant car will be eligible for a £2,000 grant.
- Londoners with non-compliant motorcycles will be eligible for £1,000.
- Small businesses and sole traders will be able to receive up to £21,000 towards scrapping up to three vans.
- Charities will be able to receive up to £27,000 in grants to scrap up to three minibuses.
Access to scrappage money had previously been prioritised for low income and disabled Londoners, and at the start of June was widened to include all small businesses and families receiving child benefit. City Hall says over £60 million of the original £110 million has not been taken up.
The Mayor said when welcoming last week’s High Court decision that he had been listening to the concerns of Londoners and would be providing further help.
Making the latest announcement, he hailed “a huge expansion to the scrappage scheme that means all Londoners with non ULEZ-compliant cars will now be able to get financial support to switch to greener, less polluting vehicles”.
Confirming that he is “not prepared to step back, delay or water down vital green policies like ULEZ” designed to reduce pollution and address the climate crisis, Khan said, “I’m determined no Londoner or London business is left behind”, adding, “we need to take people with us on the path to a sustainable future”.
With financial support available to all in need of it to make their vehicles ULEZ compliant, he urged Londoners to “come and get it”.
The move has been welcomed by leaders of a variety of London organisations, including Tim Dexter of the charity Asthma + Lung UK, Andrew Westcott, director of sustainability and Regulation with private hire company Addison Lee, and Nadra Ahmed of the National Care Association, who urged social care providers to ensure their London workforces are aware of the scrappage scheme’s new provisions. Concerns had been expressed that car-dependent care workers would be badly penalised by the ULEZ expansion.
Describing the ULEZ expansion as “an important next step”, John Dickie, chief executive at BusinessLDN, said cleaning up London’s air “not only saves lives, it makes the city a more attractive place to live, work and visit” and welcomed the additional support as “vital for businesses and households making the transition during a cost of living crisis”.
Responding to the news, Liberal Democrat London Assembly member and transport spokesperson Caroline Pidgeon welcomed Khan’s decision, but regretted he had not enlarged the scrappage scheme sooner – the Lib Dem group had argued he should have doubled it to £220 million when setting his budget earlier this year.
Pidgeon added: “There are also questions over what happens to those who were financially vulnerable who have dug deep to scrape money together for a new vehicle, but it now turns out would have been eligible for the scheme?”
Since the announcement, Conservative mayoral candidate Susan Hall has criticised Khan, saying the announcement is “too little too late” and claiming the grants are insufficient “and will only push up prices further”. She has renewed her pledge to “stop ULEZ expansion on day one” if elected Mayor next May.
Figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders analysed by Transport for London showed that 86 per cent of cars registered in London were ULEZ-compliant in 2022, up from 77 per cent in 2021. If the upward trend has continued at the same rate, the figure will now be above 90 per cent.
Data from the 2021 Census showed that 42 per cent of London households possess no motor vehicle, although the proportion rises to almost 80 per cent in some outer London boroughs. TfL says that nine out of ten cars and eight out of ten vans seen by its cameras travelling through outer London are ULEZ-compliant, although some of those will be registered outside the capital.
City Hall says a search of online retailers found one offering nearly 5,000 ULEZ-compliant cars for sale at below £2,000 with 200 miles of central London.
Twitter: Dave Hill and On London. If you value On London and its writers, become a supporter or a paid subscriber to Dave’s Substack. Article updated on 4 August 2023 to include Susan Hall’s response to Khan’s announcement.