'Arthur Daley Mayor': Critics attack Sadiq Khan on Ulez car cash help

Sadiq Khan wearing a suit and tie: Mayor of London Sadiq Khan (Yui Mok/PA)

© PA Wire
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan (Yui Mok/PA)

Londoners needing help to upgrade their car ahead of the autumn expansion of the ultra low emission zone have been warned by Sadiq Khan that cash subsidies will run out “pretty soon”.

The Mayor set up three scrappage schemes, offering grants totalling £48 million, to help get more polluting vehicles off the streets before Ulezexpands to the suburbs on October 25.

But two of the schemes — £33 million for small business vans and £1.5 million for heavy vehicles — were suspended last year after running out of cash due to “unprecedented demand”.

A third scheme to help low-income and disabled Londoners upgrade or scrap non-compliant cars and motorbikes has paid out more than £9 million and is expected to run out of cash this summer.

It gives grants of £2,000 to scrap a car and £1,000 to scrap a motorbike to London residents on income or disability benefits.

Help for charities to replace minibuses, part of the van scrappage scheme, is also expected to be exhausted within weeks.

The Standard has been told that the scrappage schemes have been merged to create a single “£56m pot”, after an additional £8.5m investment by the Mayor this year.

However less than £12m remains in total – and small business owners who applied last year but missed out due to the scale of demand will be prioritised.

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Mr Khan told Mayor’s Question Time last Thursday: “In relation to both the car and motorcycle scheme and also the charities scheme, we think we will be using up the monies pretty soon.

“At the moment, our estimates are that we don’t think we won’t run out of money by the scheme beginning.”

Last week Mr Khan told the Evening Standard that Londoners seeking to avoid the £12.50-a-day levy, which applies 24/7 up to the inner boundaries of the North and South Circular roads, could buy a newer second-hand vehicle rather than face the expense of a brand-new purchase.

One in five vehicles currently circulating in the wider zone are not Ulez compliant but no help is offered to drivers not on benefits.

Diesel vehicles registered since 2015 and petrol vehicles registered since 2005 are likely to comply with the Ulez emissions rules.

However this saw him compared by Conservative critics with the fictional TV second-hand car dealer Arthur Daley.

Tory assembly member Peter Fortune said Mr Khan was suggesting “taking money out of the hands of the poor and sending it to used-car salesmen”.

Mr Fortune said: “It seems they have got two options – the option to pay the daily charge, or to option to pay a sort of ‘Arthur Daley charge’, where they go and buy a new car.”

The van and minibus scheme awarded £7,000 to scrap a light van or minibus and a further £2,500 to buy an electric vehicle. The HGV scrappage scheme awarded £15,000 per vehicle.

A spokeswoman for the Mayor said: “Sadiq has allocated £56 million in funding for scrappage schemes that help small businesses, low-income and disabled Londoners and charities replace their polluting vehicles with greener ones to help clean up our air. These schemes have been incredibly successful, helping replace or retrofit nearly 10,000 vehicles.

“The schemes to help charities replace minibuses and low income and disabled Londoners scrap or replace privately owned vehicles remain open to new applicants. The Mayor continues to call on Government to further support the switch to cleaner vehicles through funding a targeted national scrappage scheme.”


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