The government have decided to postpone the changes to the vehicle excise duty system that were due to take effect in 2009. Alastair ‘The Badger’ Darling is expected to announce the climbdown in next week’s pre-budget report, and the expectation is that the increases will be put off for another year.
The changes would have hit heavy polluting cars with a big increase in the cost of their road tax, including some popular hot hatches. The justification for this blatant money-grabbing was that it was encouraging drivers to buy greener cars and thereby save the planet.
The worst part about the increase was that it would be retrospective, so you could be punished for a car-buying decision you made a few years ago. This could also have had the knock-on effect of making some larger engined cars, such as 4x4s and luxury saloons, almost worthless on the second-hand market.
So why the u-turn? Ministers have been keen to point out that most motorists will be no worse off, and some with less polluting engines will be better off. Surely, if it’s a green tax, it should still be introduced.
Hmm, what’s that smell? Could it be the smell of fear as an election looms on the horizon? Someone in Whitehall has clearly recognised that this will be a massively unpopular tax at a time when people are struggling with money, and it’s the sort of thing that could get them booted out of a job.