Sunday, 4 December 2011

Let's scrap road tax

One of the (many) things readers might not know about me is that I was born in Brussels. Or, as I put it to eurosceptic tories, I come from the EU and I'm here to eat your house prices.

Now, one of the interesting things about Belgium (which, for the geographically impaired, is the country in which Brussels is located) is that they don't have road tax. And, therefore, they don't have road tax discs in cars.

What they do have, however, are insurance discs. While looking much like road tax discs, insurance discs confirm that the car is insured and contain basic details of the insurance policy. As you may imagine, this makes it very easy to spot uninsured cars and also makes it easier to get another driver's insurance details in the event of an accident.

I happen to think that we would do well to emulate the Belgians in this area (if we started emulating Belgian beer manufacture then that would be an added bonus).

If it were up to me, I'd scrap road tax completely. I'd then increase insurance tax for vehicles in order to make up for the lost revenue. But some of the money from the increased insurance tax should be used to replace road tax discs with insurance tax discs.

At the moment, there is a tendency among some wealthy people not to bother with insurance. They're not likely to get caught and, if they are, then paying the fine is cheaper than buying the insurance in the first place.

The problem of uninsured drivers is a big one and one which will only get bigger. Personally, I think a scheme along the lines of the Belgian one would be a good step forwards. In fact, I'm even considering putting it forward as a motion to spring conference. Any thoughts on the idea? Please feel free to comment.

5 comments:

  1. I agree! Road Tax should be scrapped. But it should replaced with a tax based on carbon emissions to recoup the revenue instead.

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  2. "What they do have, however, are insurance discs. While looking much like road tax discs, insurance discs confirm that the car is insured and contain basic details of the insurance policy. As you may imagine, this makes it very easy to spot uninsured cars and also makes it easier to get another driver's insurance details in the event of an accident."

    All UK motor insurers are required to supply details of every motor insurance policy to the Motor Insurance Database. There is no difficulty in the police or your own insurer obtaining information about insurance on any particular vehicle in the event of an accident or crime. As far as I know the police can get the information automatically via the automatic number plate recognition system, so can tell very quickly if a vehicle is not insured.

    "At the moment, there is a tendency among some wealthy people not to bother with insurance. They're not likely to get caught and, if they are, then paying the fine is cheaper than buying the insurance in the first place.

    The problem of uninsured drivers is a big one and one which will only get bigger"

    Do you have evidence for your claim that there is a tendency among wealthy drivers to avoid having motor insurance? As opposed to those drivers who are deemed such a lousy risk that the insurers will only cover them at prohibitive premium rates?

    I'm not sure how you propose to solve the problem of uninsured drivers by making, through additional tax on motor insurance, it even more expensive than it already is.

    You may have a valid point about the size of the fines - nobody who commits an offence involving failure to pay for something which the law - for very good reasons in this case - requires them to have should get away with a fine smaller than the amount they would have forked out for the insurance in the first place.

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  3. @Anonymous

    "I'm not sure how you propose to solve the problem of uninsured drivers by making, through additional tax on motor insurance, it even more expensive than it already is."

    How is it making motoring more expensive when all it is is a replacement for the scrapping of road tax? This would be cost neutral but would have the advantage of making everyone, from other drivers to traffic wardens able to tell at a glance whether a car is insured or not as opposed to the current situation where, as you say, number plate recognition software is required.

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  4. "How is it making motoring more expensive when all it is is a replacement for the scrapping of road tax?"

    Unfortunately all too many people seem to have great difficulty in understanding their overall motoring expenditure.

    My feeling is that an increase in insurance premium tax will be seen as just that - an increase in the cost of insuring the vehicle, making it even less likely that those considering driving without insurance will actually do so.

    Just as removal of road tax and increasing the tax on fuel merely makes people bleat about the increasing cost of the fuel instead of trying to use less of the stuff.

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  5. Actually I am Belgian and this year bought a new car and there is indeed a vehicle tax paid each year. As for "insurance discs"...you sure you are looking at Belgian cars? Our windscreens have no discs at all. There is no insurance disc....

    ReplyDelete

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