Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s latest Spring Budget contains plenty of changes affecting UK drivers, even as fuel duty is frozen for the tenth year running. While this means it won’t cost us any more money to fill up our cars, we will be spending more in other areas.
The most notable include changes to our car tax, a mobile phone ban and a potential pavement parking fine across the UK. Here’s everything we know about the changes announced on April 1st.
Road Tax Increased
From April 1st, Vehicle Excise Duty, more commonly known as Road Tax, is increasing in line with inflation. Since the new tax rules came into force in 2017, any car registered between 2001 and March 2017 has their tax bracket calculated by CO2 emissions. For cars registered before 2001, it is still calculated by engine size.
The biggest changes are for cars registered after April 1st 2017 which are highly polluting. Any vehicle producing 131g – 150g CO2 per kilometre will now pay £220 road tax (a £5 increase), and vehicles producing more than 225g CO2 per kilometre a whopping £2,245 for the first year! Cars producing between 51g and 75g CO2 per kilometre are still charged £25 for the first year.
If you drive a vehicle registered after April 1st 2017, and it is not classed as ‘zero-emissions’, your standard rate has increased to £155 from the second year onwards.
Stricter Mobile Phone Ban
The ban on driving while using a mobile phone is being tightened to clamp down on a loophole which currently allows drivers to take photos and videos behind the wheel. The changes mean there will be a £200 fine and 6 penalty points for anyone caught holding their mobile phone while driving.
The law change is due to be introduced soon.
Potential UK Pavement Parking Ban
The Chancellor also unveiled plans to expand the London pavement parking ban to the rest of the UK. In an effort to make pavements more accessible for pedestrians, drivers would be charged £70 per offence if caught parking on them.
The Department for Transport (DFT) has said the roll-out could be very soon, but we don’t know the exact date yet.
Purchase Tax on New Fossil Fuel Vehicles
As part of the Government’s 2030 deadline for the sale of all petrol and diesel powered vehicles, a new tax could be introduced to discourage drivers buying high-pollution models.
The UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC) proposed a 50% purchase tax from this year on all new vehicles producing more than 225g CO2 per kilometre. With instalments increasing until only fully electric models are exempt from this tax in 2030, it is hoped this will encourage drivers to buy more eco friendly vehicles.
This tax was not introduced in Rishi Sunak’s budget today, but it is highly likely to come into force in the near future.
Local Clean Air Zones
These changes have been rumoured for a while, but the Government confirmed plans for Clean Air Zones in Bath and Birmingham today. Drivers driving into Birmingham City Centre in high polluting vehicles could face a charge of £40 per week from June this year!
It has also been confirmed that the Ultra Low Emissions Zone in Central London will be expanded up to, but not including, the North and South circular roads from 25th October 2021.
You can find more information about Clean Air Zones, and how to avoid them, here.
‘Benefit in Kind’ Returns
This tax was scrapped in March 2020 to encourage electric vehicle use, but it is being brought back just a year later.
Under the new rules, employees who receive benefits on top of their salaries, such as a company car, will be charged a 1% tax, likely increasing to 2% in 2022. This is based on income rates and the total value of your vehicle.
While this may be an annoyance for many employees, it’s far below the 16% tax rate of 2019!
London Driving Charge Extended
It’s more bad news for drivers who live and work in London. This Greater London borough charge will set you back £3.50 a day to enter the outer boroughs of the city. It also extended the cost of driving in the capital from just the Congestion Charge zone to the whole of Greater London.
Driving Lessons & Theory Tests to Resume April 12th
It was also confirmed that driving schools can resume work as per Step 2 of the Government’s ‘Roadmap Out of Lockdown’.
From April 12th, driving lessons and driving theory tests will resume in England. In fact, driving tests for all vehicles except cars will also resume on this date.
In Scotland, it will be no earlier than April 26th, and Wales are currently reviewing their resumption date.
Driving Tests to Resume April 22nd
Finally, it was confirmed that driving tests can resume later this month, pending vaccination targets and any new Coronavirus variants. This will come as a relief to young drivers who have had their tests cancelled and disrupted several times over the last year.
Please note that not all test centre waiting rooms will reopen as a result of Cornavirus guidelines. You can still book and manage your test online here.
What do you think about all the new changes? Would you like to see the Government do more to improve UK roads? Let us know in the comments!
Drew works for BookMyGarage writing blogs, website content and almost everything else in between. He works closely with ex-mechanics and subject matter experts. When he’s not helping you save money on running your car or making your driving life easier, he can be found either with his head in a book or with a golf club in his hands (usually looking for his ball in the woods)