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  • Mark Salisbury

HGV levy restarts on 1st August 2023

Photo by Mike Bird

The HGV levy, abandoned at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, is to be reintroduced from 1 August with a new emphasis on emissions, weight and time spent in the UK.

The department for transport (DfT) said vehicles of 12 tonnes or more driving on motorways or A roads must pay the levy.

The amount charged will depend on the weight of the vehicle, including the weight of a trailer if a rigid vehicle is pulling one; its Euro emissions class and the amount of time it spends in the UK.

Rates vary from between £150 to £749 per vehicle, per year.

The DfT said the HGV levy was aimed at making sure lorries make a contribution reflecting the wear and tear of the road network.

“These reforms to the HGV levy are a further step towards reflecting the environmental performance of the vehicle, focusing more on air quality emissions and indicative levels of CO2 emissions,” the DfT said.

“For foreign-registered vehicles, the reforms also ensure the levy is focused on road usage and that it is more clearly aligned with the government’s international obligations.”

It added that the levy was suspended in August 2020 to support the haulage sector and aid pandemic recovery efforts.

However, the Road Haulage Association (RHA) has warned that now is not the time to reintroduce the HGV road user levy, following confirmation last month that a revised version of the scheme will return from 1 August.

Originally introduced in 2014, the HGV levy is designed to ensure that all trucks of 12 tonnes and over make a contribution to the Treasury for their use of UK roads.

Since February 2019, less polluting vehicles have paid cheaper levies, but the tax was suspended in August 2020 in a bid to aid pandemic recovery. Now, the environmental focus of the scheme is set to sharpen on its reintroduction.

When the revised levy returns in August, as confirmed in the Chancellor’s Spring Budget, the amount paid will use each vehicle’s weight to broadly approximate CO2 emissions, and will also take into account the vehicle’s air quality emissions standard, and levy duration.

Further details can be found at the website.

Ashton Cull, public affairs manager at the RHA, said that the timing of the reintroduction of the HGV levy was “concerning” given the cost pressures being faced, and would disproportionately impact small operators.

He said RHA believed strong consideration should be given to postponing the levy’s reinstatement, and that when it did return it should be cost-neutral for UK hauliers investing in Euro VI vehicles.

“As of 2019, vehicles carrying a Euro VI engine started paying a lower rate than those carrying Euro 0-V engines,” he said.

“Now, when the HGV levy is reintroduced, the number of axles is no longer a consideration.

“In line with the government’s intentions first outlined back in 2012, the effect of this change means that an HGV is now charged according to the environmental and air quality damage it causes, rather than the road surface wear.”

Citing the 2022 RHA Costs Survey which suggested that the cost of running an HGV had increased by nearly 20 per cent, Mr Cull said it was: “disappointing that the levy is no longer focused on maintaining essential road infrastructure that all Britons rely on.

“We are clear that, when finding alternative methods to fund that vital expenditure, the government must not impose any additional costs on our sector.”

However, he added that the reforms to the levy did enable simpler calculations, with only six potential rates to pay as opposed to the previous 22. In addition, per-vehicle costs looked to be generally lower, he said.

“For example, the highest rate payable under the scheme has dropped from £996.00 to £749.00. We do note however that certain niche operations may experience a significant percentage increase.”

Mr Cull continued: “Ultimately, we support the overarching purpose of the HGV levy, which has not changed: to ensure foreign HGVs coming to the UK contribute to the efforts to rectify the impacts of their operations.

“In the absence of any better mechanism that complies with international agreements, we must begrudgingly accept this one.”

RHA executive director of communications Rod McKenzie concurred that the overarching aim of the levy was fair, but said that the timing of its return was, “to put it mildly… rubbish,” and reiterated Mr Cull’s call for postponement of the decision to “clobber UK hauliers with extra costs”.

Responding to the Budget last month, meanwhile, Logistics UK said its members would also be concerned about proposals for the reformed levy, and added that it would be seeking urgent clarification on the detail.

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