Are Brits Ready For Pay-As-You-Drive?

Tue 22nd Dec 2020

A major new survey has found a surprising number of British motorists would be happy to pay charges for every mile that they drive, as a replacement for lost fuel tax revenues.

With the government on a road to carbon zero by 2030, the loss of petrol and diesel vehicles on the network will create a huge hole in the chancellor’s coffers. It is estimated that there will be a £40bn loss when people stop filling up at the pump within the next decade as we switch to electric vehicles.

A number of revenue solutions have been proposed, the most popular of which seems to be one which charges those who use the roads the most, a pay-as-you-drive scheme. The Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, is thought to favour this route and it will be one of the ideas discussed at a road pricing inquiry set up by the Transport Select Committee early next year.

Market research from Ipsos Mori has found that 62 per cent of road users favour some form of road pricing, and a quarter strongly support the pay-as-you-drive concept. This shift in opinion compares favourably to a similar poll 13 years ago when almost half of those polled were against the idea.

“Media reports that the Chancellor is weighing up plans for a new national system with motorists paying directly to use Britain's roads, have put road pricing back on the political agenda,” said Ben Marshall, research director at Ipsos Mori.

“Public opinion will play an important role, just as it did in curbing previous ambitions to find a new way of funding the country's roads.

“The recent focus has been on a new scheme's revenue-raising potential given a multi-billion 'tax hole' caused by the coronavirus pandemic and a move to electric cars. 

“But our survey shows that while both public and industry's instincts are 'pro'- the introduction of charging schemes in principle, practical implementation will matter.”