There’s nothing that’ll get a debate raging like scrappage schemes, be that from an environmental perspective or just the sad demise of old cars - and you could say the same for the questionable benefits of the ULEZ. So this qualifies as a perfect storm: with the ULEZ expanding right up to the M25 at the end of August, Transport for London is launching a new £110m programme to get those in the capital into an eligible car.
There are some caveats, of course. Up to £5,000 per person is going to be offered to those with cars or motorbikes that don’t meet the emissions criteria of ULEZ (Euro 4 petrol, Euro 6 diesel) if they are on ‘certain low income or disability benefits’. According to TfL, that’s things like Income Support, Housing Benefit, Disability Living Allowance and so on.
The maximum £5k grant is for either scrapping a wheelchair-accessible car or van, or retrofitting the latter with equipment to make it compliant. There’s a Clean Vehicle Retrofit Accreditation Scheme, and garages on that list can bring a wheelchair-accessible vehicle up to standard. Those scrapping a car will get £2,000, which anyone searching for a used car right now will tell you doesn’t go an awfully long way. Alternatively, residents can opt for £1,600 plus one adult rate Annual Bus & Tram Pass or £1,200 plus two of the passes for their old car. Or, of course, they can keep it, and pay the daily charge to drive in any of London’s 32 boroughs.
TfL says the scheme will help clear London’s air and encourage the switch to ‘cleaner, greener modes of transport’. Certainly, nobody who’s lived in the capital would suggest it ever feels like the healthiest place to breathe, but then life isn’t as simple as just buying a newer, less polluting car - even with a financial incentive. And especially not right now. Those wishing to apply have plenty of hoops to jump through, largely relating to proof of ownership and proof of benefits, but the scheme gets even dafter as scrapping a vehicle could affect benefits and tax status.
Because some means-tested benefits can be influenced by savings, the grant money could come in, leave somebody without a car, put applicants over a certain threshold and consequently change the claim, which is a totally absurd - and therefore completely believable - situation for people to be put in. ‘TfL will have no liability to you if the ULEZ car and motorcycle scrappage scheme grant payment affects any means-tested benefits you receive.’ And this is meant to be encouraging people out of their cars!
So there might be some teething problems, to put it mildly. The full rundown of who is eligible and what to do ahead of August can be found here; suffice it to say there will be plenty more to say about the latest scrappage scheme over the next six months. And maybe a few cars for sale in the capital too…