Matt Kimberley profile picture Matt Kimberley 5 days ago 84
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This Prize-Winning Roads Pricing Idea Sounds Like Our Worst Nightmare

Admittedly, we're biased, but we fail to see the prize-worthiness of a scheme that will charge us even more to drive our cars than we already have to pay

Remind me later
A 3000-mile allowance is good, but that's the only positive
A 3000-mile allowance is good, but that's the only positive

An idea that could see British drivers paying an extra £2.3 million in tax every day of the year has for some insane reason been awarded a prestigious economics prize.

The award, which comes with a £250,000 cheque for the scheme’s designer, would see fuel duty and road tax abolished in favour of tracking each car’s mileage and charging drivers accordingly. It wouldn’t be a flat rate across all cars, though; heavier and more polluting cars would pay more. The busiest roads would attract bigger charges, too, so you’re stuffed if you live in a city.

'More polluting' cars would pay even more...
'More polluting' cars would pay even more...

According to the finer details of politics and urban planning graduate Gergely Raccuja’s idea, people would be given a 3000-mile allowance of free miles, after which charges would apply. The money would be collected annually by car insurance providers, minimising the extra admin involved but potentially adding a massive financial burden to the annual payment – or the monthly direct debits.

The scheme would, apparently, raise vastly more money than the current system, and whichever way you slice it, if you drive significantly more than 3000 miles a year you’ll end up paying more than you do today. We have to admit, though, that the system might work in favour of weekend racecars that only cover a few thousand clicks a year and could enjoy super-cheap unleaded.

Big, heavy, polluting cars would pay the most
Big, heavy, polluting cars would pay the most

We quickly dug up the most recent figures we could find for UK fuel duty and road tax revenue, and came up with an annual £33.5 billion road and fuel tax take. That’s nearly £92 million a day being paid in road and fuel taxes. We can only infer that Autocar’s report is meant to indicate an extra 2.3 million per day being paid, which seems likely.

Early supporters of the idea say that the increased take could be put back into fixing the roads. However, even today, nowhere near the full road tax and fuel duty take goes back into the infrastructure, so we think that’s pure bull. What are your thoughts? Would the illusion of cheap fuel and no road tax make up for an extra bill on top of your insurance?