Friday, 10 July 2015

George Osborne, Emma Way fanboi

In 1920, the government decided to introduce a tax for cars for their road use, called the road fund. It didn't work, because it was inefficient at allocating government resources, the road tax returned a surplus each year, which couldn't be spent on other things. Worse still, it incited by poor behaviour by drivers as they began to think they owned the roads, as pointed out by Winston Churchill in 1926.

So, the reversion of VED into a road tax is regressive and penalises future cleaner cars [which currently represent just 0.5% of newly registered cars in the UK ] as well as potentially affecting cyclists.

The idea is to get all road users to contribute to the maintenance of our crumbling road system on the principle that you pay for what you use[1].

However, if the purpose of the tax was to pay for road use, then the levy ought to be determined by the weight of the vehicle x its size x the distance traveled per year; since these factors govern the vehicle's usage of the road in terms of its occupancy and maintenance.

I did some searching and found that an average UK car is 1500Kg, 4.7m long and travels 12700Km per year.

Let's look at what happens if we apply that thinking to different cars:

For example, my Smart FourTwo weighs 740Kg and is 2.7m long and I drive it about 5000miles per year. I should therefore pay 740Kg/1500Kg x 2.7m/4.7m x 8000Km/12700Km= 0.179 x £140 x = £7.11, i.e. much less than I currently pay. Great, I'd be for that!

A VW Golf owner who drives an average amount should pay: 1300Kg/1500Kg x 4.3m/4.7m = 0.793 x £140 = £111.01, i.e. significantly less than the new VED.

A Land Rover Discovery driving 16K miles/year: 2150Kg/1500Kg x 4.7m/4.7m = 1.81 x £140 = £254.01. An entirely fair contribution.

But because the Chancellor lumps 95% of cars as needing to contribute as much to roads; what he means is that: smaller, lighter, cleaner cars are subsidising the VED. That's UNFAIR - even by his own criteria.

But the reversion of VED to a road tax raises the question of whether cyclists should pay. Studies have shown that this would discourage people from cycling, if they had to pay a cycling tax. Worse still, it validates the attitude of people like Emma Way who bragged about knocking cyclists off the road:
"Definitely knocked a cyclist off his bike earlier - I have right of way, he doesn't even pay road tax #bloodycyclist. " [2]
Osborne's redefinition of VED means her justification for injuring someone on a bike is now rewarded - we're currently not paying road tax. Given that cycling is facing an increasing backlash and despite a decrease in incidents, expect cycling injuries to go up.

Expect also calls for zero-emission cars to be taxed (they're not yet) on the grounds they use roads and therefore cyclists to be taxed on this basis.

But of course cyclists won't be taxed on the basis of their use of the road. Consider an above average cyclist who travels 15Km/day in a working week (x48 weeks): 14Kg/1500 x 1.72m/4.7 x 1m/2m (width) x 720Km/12640 => 0.00009727982763 x £140 = £0.01 . Yep, I'd pay that. I bet the government won't introduce a bike tax of 1p/year.

And that's the other practical problem. When you look at this tax, and the implications of it as it currently stands, even by the chancellors criteria; it's regressive: penalising people more if they want to travel healthier and cleaner, subsidising people who damage the environment as much as possible.