Drivers should be charged for the roads they use, according to report

Published 25 January 2018

Fuel and vehicle tax isn't cheap and neither show any signs of abating, but it isn't enough to fund the UK's road network, according to leading group of infrastructure engineers.

The Association for Consultancy and Engineering (ACE) represents companies involved in designing the UK's infrastructure and its latest report says money generated through fuel duty, Vehicle Excise Duty and the HGV levy is outdated.

It also argues that the growing uptake of zero-emission vehicles (which don't pay VED unless they cost more than £40,000 to buy new) means revenue from Vehicle Excise Duty and Fuel Duty will continue to decline.

>> Fuel prices set to rise again

In its report, 'Funding Roads for the Future', ACE makes a case for a new taxation system that would effectively charge the driver for the miles they cover. The new system would calculate costs against the type of road used, the time of day and the number of miles covered. Congestion and a driver's individual financial circumstances should also be factored into road taxation. 

ACE says Britain's roads need urgent investment; however, a Treasury spokesperson said: "We are committed to ensuring that our roads are fit for purpose, and that's why we are investing £15 billion in our Road Investment Strategy."


peter hughes    on 29 January 2018

And how would that mileage etc be assessed without massive investment in roadside monitoring or some sort as well as bureaucracy created to administer the whole thing Charge the cars fairly. Why does a diesel Merc. pay £10 per annum when my Elise used for 1000 miles a year pays nearly £250 Make fairer and simpler.It is just an ineqitable mess currently

Edited by peter hughes on 29/01/2018 at 12:30

jchinuk    on 29 January 2018

While I can see the attraction of such a system, it would need to be pitched at such a level that an 'average' (is there such a being?) motorist pays about the same as they do now in fuel tax/VED.
There would still need to be car registration, so you can collect the 'Driving Tax' and that would still need to be charged for if only to cover the costs. It would not catch the scallies who do not tax or insure their vehicles anyway, unless there was a large (and expensive) operation to catch them on the road.

There are obvious civil liberties questions, personally I don't care if HMG knows I visit Tesco/IKEA, but would they feel free to target me if I regularly visited the 'Dog & Duck' and drove home? Or what if there was some terrorist outrage or hit and run incident, would all motorists within a mile be asked to explain themselves? Such information would be readily available.

Surely the fairest option would be to create an 'energy charge' which could apply to petrol/diesel/electricity/LPG/hydrogen and reflect the distance travelled for each unit of energy?

edinburra    on 29 January 2018

Well argued, I’m in favour of no VED and the tax being raised on fuel to cover.

retiredspeedmerchant    on 8 February 2018

Yes I agree. Its fairest way aas those who use the roads the most would pay proprtionately more. Electric vehicles could be charged a surcharge every time the recharge more than, say, once every two days.

Ubermik    on 29 January 2018

This is bit of a BS government propaganda question really isn't it? They ARE charged for each mile they drive and have been for decades in the form of VAT and fuel duties Personally I think road tax should just be scrapped as motorists are being charged over and over again for the same thing and then most of the tax doesn't get spent on what it was collected for, its wasted on gender studies courses, benefit and health tourists and other liberal nonsense

Its high time tax was ringfenced for each thing its collected for, so tax collected for maintaining roads should ONLY be spent on that

If a company charged you for a service then spent the money and didnt provide the service thats fraud

When governments do it nobody seems bothered

Edited by Ubermik on 29/01/2018 at 12:43

Murray Snudge    on 12 February 2018

Exactly - well said.

Alan Bowler    on 29 January 2018

I can see the problem. Right now it's relatively easy to charge people through road and fuel duty but zero emissions cars change the game. Now that the internet is (almost) always with us we probably need electronic monitoring of vehicle movements/mileages which would negate any need for roadside monitoring.

CHD    on 29 January 2018

The Treasury rakes in more than 30 billion annually just from fuel and vehicle taxes. Add in other tax takes,; road charges, congestion charges, and the tax take is much higher. The lofty " The Treasury is investing 15 billion this year " means they are frittering away the other 15+ billion on other initiates. So vehicle owners/users are massively subsidising government expenditure. Chris Hoffland

CHD    on 29 January 2018

The Treasury rakes in more than 30 billion annually just from fuel and vehicle taxes. Add in other tax takes,; road charges, congestion charges, and the tax take is much higher. The lofty " The Treasury is investing 15 billion this year " means they are frittering away the other 15+ billion on other initiates. So vehicle owners/users are massively subsidising government expenditure. Chris Hoffland

Frank Dowling    on 12 February 2018

Don't forget the cost of policing and other similar services (such as highway patrols) on the roads, including lighting, operating and maintaining traffic lights and road signscorrect to say that they are spending £15 billion on other things.

Edited by Frank Dowling on 12/02/2018 at 18:27

johnhaz6    on 14 February 2018

Thats what council tax is for

Robert McMahon    on 29 January 2018

We are already taxed for the miles we cover, it's called fuel duty and vat

marinipersonal    on 29 January 2018

Just make it mandatory to any vehicle driving in the UK to pay an annual tax as they do in Switzerland and other places. There's a lot of vehicles regularly in the UK that aren't genuine visitors, and even if they're, nothing more fair than pay such tax, as we don't have tolls like in Italy and France.

DrTeeth    on 29 January 2018

A diesel Merc is £10 a year? For mine it's over £300!

sixcylinder    on 29 January 2018

We motorists all contribute more in tax than is spent on the roads, so why does the ACE say we don't.
If it is true and I don't believe it, we don't need to implant all sorts of electronic spy cameras. Simply do as Maggie Thatcher tried to do, put more tax on fuel and those who consume more pay more either because they are heavy or they do more miles. Heavy vehicles or high mileage vehicles produce the most road damage, so it's logical they pay the most!
Battery car users would have to be included in the tax collection effort to make sure they pay their fair wack.

Marcin Lewandowski    on 29 January 2018

The only fair Road Tax system is to include the Road Tax in to the fuel cost. There is no fairer way. If your car uses little fuel, or if you are not driving a lot, you pay less tax (you emit less CO2 - because you use less fuel!!) No need for special labs, special testing, certification or cheating devices in engine management, no need for all that. If you drive, you buy fuel, if you buy fuel you pay road tax. If you don't want to drive, or pay road tax, you don't buy fuel and don't drive, simple. If you are a foreign driver driving on UK roads and emitting CO2 in to UK air, you will have to at some point fill up your tank, you buy fuel you pay road tax!! simple. It does not get simpler than that really... No need for additional infrastructure either....

DaveWK    on 29 January 2018

Many foreign trucks have no need to fill up in UK. 44 tonne truck arrives at Dover with additional fuel tanks refueled at Calais for less than £1 a litre. Drop off their load here then pick up and deliver all over Britain (it's allowed because we're all in the same happy eu family). Back on the ferry and never paid a penny for fuel or road tolls.

We have a 14 year old Corsa and pay £240 a year Vehicle Excise Licence for mileage of less than two thousand miles. Just put it down to 'Rip Off Britain'.

   on 29 January 2018

simply scrap road tax and add to fuel,all the gov need to do is monitor the annual fuel used by all vehicles,and add tax as required to each litre.
no more tax evasion,if people cut down on journeys because of cost then less pollution.
foreign drivers contribute.
use DVLA and Police to concentrate on insurance evasion

Santamaria    on 29 January 2018

They say 'a driver's individual financial circumstances' should be taken into account. Are they mad? Do we all now have to fill in a Road Tax Return so they can work out how much we can each afford to pay? And if a car is driven by more than one person the drivers would all presumably have to keep records of who was driving each journey so they can all have a separate Return to fill in and then an individual bill. Words fail me.

MuppetTheWonderDog    on 29 January 2018

Another con trick in the making. Like smart meters.

Where else in the world do they have large fuel taxes and also extort annual VED/RFL. We are mugs.

Are you aware that every new car sold in the EU from January 1st 2018 has to have provision for a SIM card to be fitted ?

Big Brother is coming and its got very little to do with PAYG road pricing. Yes, those roads you've already paid for over and over again.

Watch this space.

Brian Bark    on 29 January 2018

For petrol and diesel cars the solutions obvious, dispense with VED and add the value to fuel tax. Add a standing charge for foreign vehicles entering at ports. Electric vehicles could report their mileage at intervals and pay a charge, make the MOT annual for new electric vehicles so the reported mileage can be checked annually. And the most obvious problem, also already mentioned, ring fence the revenue for roads maintenance, just doing that might solve the problem any way.

Edited by Brian Bark on 29/01/2018 at 14:35

Nobbet    on 29 January 2018

We are overcharged enough. The government rakes in more than 30 Billion per, and has done for decades. Where has all the money gone? There is enough going into the coffers every year to more than keep the road infrastructure in very good condition. The powers that be, must spend "Road Taxes " on the roads, NOT Parasitic EU stupid ideas and Bufoons Failure to so will eventually bring the country ta a standstill Dave Clark

Ged Murphy    on 29 January 2018

(Additional) tax on fuel seems to me the fairest way and a portion of that ringfenced for the NHS until they start to charge patients who end up in A&E thru drink driving or wreckless/careless driving

JimR    on 29 January 2018

The lowering/removal of VED on low emission vehicles will only be temporary. The carrot is always the first way to changing our spending habits. After a while the government will either realise the policy they are trying to persue is wrong and change course or they will get the big stick out to beat those who didn't take the carrot. Either way and electric car users etc will be paying VED within 5 years.

Penner    on 29 January 2018

Surely fuel duty is the logical route by which to collect all taxes on road usage. Everything else should be scrapped.

Increased duty on carbon-base fuels would tax drivers (or companies) on:-

The amount of fuel they burn, thus encouraging ever-increasing take-up of low or zero carbon-base fuelled vehicles.

Their fuel consumption, thus encouraging reduced usage of the vehicle and reduced fuel consumption.

Futhermore, the mechanism for the collection of this tax already exists, so its implementation carries zero additional cost.

I also agree with Brian Bark (above) that foreign vehicles entering the UK should pay a fixed road usage charge at the port of entry. British vehicles driving on motorways in most European countries have to pay a toll or fixed charge of some kind, so surely we should implement the same system.

diddy11cg    on 29 January 2018

And who is the "Lame Brain" that thought this one up? We already pay tax on the miles we do. It's called Fuel Tax. So now the idiot wants to charge us twice.

Les Richards    on 29 January 2018


Scrap road tax and put it on the price of fuel.

Those who drive most will pay most and no-one will dodge the VED.

   on 29 January 2018

Currently the motorist pays about £40 billion a year to the government in motoring taxes and charges. The government spends about £6 billion on the road network. I don’t see that the motorist doesn’t pay enough. £40 billion a year, if spent on the roads,would be plenty.
The government chooses to make motorists subsidise schools, hospitals social services etc. Often with the disingenuous claim tgat it helps the environment to levy these grossly disproportionate charges on motorists.
How about a taxation system that charges according to use and economy so the biggest users and polluters pay? Why not call it fuel duty? There is already a system in place to collect this. We don’t need big infrastructure to rip off motorists further. We do need a way to charge foreign HGVs to isecour road system. Current long range tanks mean most do not refuel here so do not contribute to the costs of the network. Brexit may make this easier, I suppose

aethelwulf    on 29 January 2018

is it true that the government spent £60 bn a year on roads? That is the tax take on motorists which includes fuel duty,vat on new vehicles and vat on fuel and insurance premium tax.Vat on car servicing . Plus the tolls on bridges and tunnels are a tax.
The answer is of course the government need more cash to throw at crazy projects like HS2 so their MPs can get from Birmingham to London 10 minutes quicker.

Pam Thompson    on 29 January 2018

Easy. Scrap the road tax, put it on the cost of fuel instead as they do in Europe. Those who use more fuel, pay more road tax.

B Kowal    on 29 January 2018

Why on earth would ACE suggest financial circumstances be taken into account - HMRC doesn't vary VAT charges according to individuals' income? Do poorer folk pay less per mile for travel on public transport? Meanwhile, hitting motorists at the pumps is a short term measure as more electric vehicles will use our roads in the future. Charging per mile driven, though unwelcome, seems fair. Whatever system is considered, it should be simple and transparent.

Edited by B Kowal on 29/01/2018 at 15:59

i3 Driver    on 29 January 2018

The technology is already there to monitor where vehicles go through trackers and the like, on my car there is a SIM card which allows me to find the location 24/7 so actually road pricing is going to be the way forward as integrated with mapping programs and it would not be difficult to create some sort of charging system. This would also pick up all the foreign lorries using the roads and not paying for maintenance. It also brings all the EV's into the fold, though many are town vehicles they are often on the road at peak times.

I would think certain roads would almost be nil charge to use (country lanes, residential streets or so cheap as to be next to nothing) so possibly certain areas would not be covered by road pricing at all, this would allay some of the big brother fears, but then we all walk round with location services working on our what is the difference!

Robert Chester    on 29 January 2018


ITISME    on 29 January 2018


Pros are those using roads pay fair proportion;

eadily collected at fill up time

no evasion

minimal costs of collection compared to now

Cons foreign short term visitors would have to buy a windscreen tempy gisc on entering uk(see wiss/czrcky)

Robert McAuley    on 29 January 2018

Totally agree with Peter Hughes as the proposition is far too complicated rather than simply placing increased tax on fuel so those who use the roads then pay for them.

Edited by Robert McAuley on 29/01/2018 at 17:13

Gary Gamble    on 29 January 2018

When one owns a car, one insures it, VED's it and fills it with fuel. To do this, one pays up front. If you don't have the money, you can't, in theory, drive your car.
Now imagine getting a bill for your previous month's mileage. It has to be paid retrospectively, not up front. Imagine receiving a bill for a month's driving where, for various reasons, you had accrued a much greater mileage. The unexpected cost might put some families under serious financial pressure and debt. With the current system, this is unlikely to happen.
We don't want an Orwellian scenario in UK which will mean an up front expenditure on GPS mapping for all cars. Civil liberties will be infringed and if that appeals to you, you should go live in America.
The good news is that computer technology is so unstable and shabby that the system won't cope anyway. We're light years away from it. The current system can't even detect the VED and insurance defaulters so don't fret just yet.

meerkat mitch    on 29 January 2018

no massive investment necessesary peter, just charge mileage accordingly at mot time ;)

Edited by meerkat mitch on 29/01/2018 at 17:39

KENNETH MASON    on 29 January 2018


Thomas McCarron    on 29 January 2018

Ditch the VED and put the enrtire taxation onto fuel tax. This way the people who travel more or use more fuel in huge 'gas guzzlers' will pay the most. Also this way no-one can avoid the tax because unless you're stealing fuel you're paying the tax on it. It's the fairest way and also the one with the least bureaucracy required to run the system.

Diggerssenior    on 29 January 2018

A great idea. I would also think that a tapered charge is levied based on the size of the vehicle. These monstrous SUV's etc need to be driven off the road as they are unsuitable for our congested roads and towns.

Fessel    on 29 January 2018

This old chestnut has been floating around since learnt to drive and passed my motorbike and car test...1959 and 1960!
I'll believe it when it happens, stories like this seem to crop up when more important news is being buried to divert our attention. Seems to working still judging by comments ;o)

Contax139    on 29 January 2018

If they start to charge just by fuel duty or mileage I would swap my little van based MPV Bipper Tepee for something like a Land Cruiser, I have mobility problems due to osteoarthritis & gout so need a high seated vehicle, this was best value I could find to satisfy my needs, only done 4,700 miles in 7 years, 2 tanks of fuel a year. I would love a land cruiser before I drop dead so could treat myself and carve up the roads with the giant tractor. Paying mileage charge at MOT would work if they could securely seal digital odometer from fiddlers and make new cars report to MOT every year to pay mileage. EV cars should contribute, they get a government grant to buy and install fast charge point at home, also use domestic electricity designed for heating and lighting at only 5% VAT instead on 15% charged on other fuel for cars. Make foreign cars entering country pay for a 1 month tax disc on entry, if they overstay without renewing crush vehicle so they don't risk it.

Johnno431    on 29 January 2018

It doesn’t matter whether it is a diesel, petrol or electric vehicle that’s using the roads - they are all using the roads which need to be paid for.
If I am driving 10000 miles pa I should be paying twice as much as someone driving 5000 miles pa .
Put the tax on fuel - petrol, diesel, electric- and those that use the roads will pay their fair share.
Simple !

NickNike    on 29 January 2018

a Treasury spokesperson said: "We are committed to ensuring that our roads are fit for purpose,..." Not around here they're not.Potholed and as rough as a badgers @r$e. I've never seen the roads so bad. We're becoming a third world nation. They need all this tax to pay the excessive welfare state, so don't expect to get any value from your tax payments. In fact the comments here show the massive naivety of what is going on. And don't expect any sensible legislation as the weasels in Westminster don't practice logic. Just expect everything to get more and more expensive. That will be the reality.

Roger Hulme    on 30 January 2018

My wife and I run the following cars:-
2011 Mazda MX-5 2.0 Roadster - 3500 to 4000 miles p.a. £240 VED
2016 Skoda Yeti 1.2 TSI - 4000 miles p.a. £120 VED
2011 Mazda 2 1.3 TS2- 3000 miles p.a. £30 VED
I very much begrudge paying £240 for the MX-5 and am not too happy about paying £120 for the Yeti.
As a consequence, I am very much in favour of abolishing VED and increasing fuel duty. That way, everyone pays according to how much they drive.
I note that since the abolition of VED discs more people are failing to pay - what a surprise!
They probably aren't Insuring their cars or obtaining MOTs either.
Solution:- Drivers to display insurance sticker as they do in some other countries and a sticker to prove that vehicle has an MOT.
Perhaps the Insurance Company could check that the vehicle has an MOT before issuing sticker to prove that vehicle is insured.

Bernadette Harlow    on 30 January 2018

It really gets on my nerves how car users are expected to pay again and again for using the roads. Why is the money for car tax and fuel tax not kept for the roads? That is why we pay it and yet it’s used for other things. Other countries pay less fuel tax than us. It’s just another way to get money off the hard working person. I work for the NHS and we had a pay freeze for years then finally got a 1% pay rise. Things go up and up but wages don’t. Unless your an MP that is. They don’t lead by example.
Who will pay for the MP’s miles? Why us of course along with all the other expenses they have. They don’t have to live off minimum wage or their own wage. Worst people for ripping off the country.
They are going to make it more and more difficult for the ordinary person to do anything other than work.
I know this will effect everyone but people loaded with money won’t notice it.
Also how many millions is it going to cost to implement? Then how much money to send every motorist a bill every month. Absolutely ridiculous.
They couldn’t faze it in either as that would be discrimination. Some paying and some not. How much per mile ? 1p 5p 10p ?
I do not travel far to work. So it will cost me at 10p a mile over 5 days depending where I work about £5. Times that by 52 is £260. Then I have to pick my daughter up in Birmingham. That will cost £10.60 per journey. Going to see parents in Swindon £18.20. It will soon mount up. Going shopping, to school, get your hair done. Believe me it will be a big bill at the end of the year.
Then will public transport go up ? Will council tax go up because they have to pay for their vehicles.
I wonder if it’s another scare mongering tactic. So when tax and fuel goes up everyone will be happy about not having to pay by miles.

Angela a    on 30 January 2018

I agree with virtually everything that has been said. Add the costs of roads to fuel so you pay for the miles you use, including foreign drivers. Abolish ved - think of the millions saved in admin and the unfair system of fining people who have inadvertently not renewed as they no longer have the disc on screen. Add a charge at ports to reflect the fuel they have. Isolate/ ringfence the money raised for roads. Don't forget the people who are suggesting this all live in London under a highly subsidised public transport system and expenses and as one comment made subsidised expenses. What about raising one of those sign up schemes where People agree to something so it has to be debated in parliament? I.e. Force some democracy on them?

Bodgerac    on 31 January 2018

About 25 years ago, the Government introduced a Consultancy Report, one subject being introducing road tax on vehicles that were off the road.This idea was scrapped, and was eventually replaced with the equally stupid SORN. (But nice little earner, none the less, as so-called Reminders went astray). I wrote to them at the time, suggesting that they scrap the road tax, and show an insurance disc instead, which would not be issued by the insurance company until the motorist had paid, and sighted the MoT, if there was one needed. Make up the shortfall with an increase of 20 pence per gallon. They replied that it would be unpopular with the public, as the 20p increase would raise the price of petrol to the land-mark figure of £1 per gallon. Yes, £1 per GALLON. (4.46 litres to the gallon, I think, to you youngsters). So there we go. A simple solution, but too simple for the m****s in Westminster, who like things complicated and unworkable.

Bodgerac    on 31 January 2018

Since my last post, I recall that the Government reply also said that they would keep the Road Fund Licence, as it is needed as a good tax base. For what? Well some years ago, it is a known fact, that Winston Churchill, when in office, creamed off a bit for other uses.

   on 31 January 2018

There may be a slightly simpler way and perhaps a fairer way. All reasonably new cars , under warranty, get an anual service, all older cars should get an MOT. The annual mileage travelled will be on record.
Now all fuel stations, should be able to record number plates, and fuel taken. Drivers could then be charged a 'road tax' on the actual mpg. High mpg users should pay a higher proportion towards the road funding because the are driving heavier cars or quickly, so producing more polution. The manufacturer s figures although high should be able to be approached within 20%.
There are many drivers who enjoy driving very quickly. This does cause more road wars on the roads serface. The average mpg over each 12 month period would be assessed by DVLA and a road tax paid. Those getting close to the manufacturer s claim minus 20 percent would be on the lowest band , those getting further away, i.e. A tax on fun would pay a proportionately higher fee.
Any one cheating would pay £1000 a year road tax for 5 years, any garage or service stations involved in cheating would pay £20,000 fine per car cheating, surely all garages and service stations would be easy to connect to DVLA.
People who currenflydodge the system would have there cars seized and crushed and a large fine levied.

   on 31 January 2018

understand now that wood burning stoves 4x more pollution than Diesel cars,so glad I did not put one in my Countryman!!

Bigsphinx    on 12 February 2018

understand now that wood burning stoves 4x more pollution than Diesel cars,so glad I did not put one in my Countryman!!

It's not wood burning stoves that emit particles, it is the material burned in them. Seasoned wood such as oak and ash, dried to 10% to 15% moisture, burn cleanly with little emissions in a modern stove. These convert the material to wood gas which is what burns. Even better are 'machined' heat logs and smokeless coals. But many people use open fires or old fashioned stoves, burning softwood and scrap wood, poor quality coal. They cannot get hot enough to burn cleanly, make the air stink and emit loads of pollution.

As for puting the tax only on fuel, anyone with an electric or plug-in hybrid vehicle will not be paying their fair share but still use the roads.

Edited by Bigsphinx on 12/02/2018 at 13:35

gordonbennet    on 1 February 2018

It's obvious this is just one of the first salvos to soften up the motorist, you never know might be a peerage going for whoever came up with this handy bit of propaganda, they do like to reward those who play the game.

Nobody surely thought? did they? that the electric car was their answer to cheap travel and that nothing would change to hook them too?

The motorist still has some money left over after all the taxes already taken from them, the govt (which ignores it's electorate and has done for decades) is addicted to stealing your money, irony being the electorate continue to vote for more of the same, but that's probably a discussion for another day.

Richard M Russell    on 12 February 2018

In South Africa I believe 3rd party insurance is included in the price of fuel. Not sure how this in practice.

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