The scrappage scheme for the Ultra low emission zone (ULEZ) should be big enough to help every single Londoner who needs it, the city’s deputy mayor has said.
Seb Dance, deputy mayor for transport, said he was “confident” that the £160m pot is now of a sufficient size to provide a grant to every owner of a non-compliant vehicle who applies to the scheme.
The fund provides grants of £2,000 for non-compliant cars and £1,000 for motorcycles, with larger amounts available for vans and minibuses.
Initially opened in January this year, the scheme at first amounted to £110m and was only open to Londoners in receipt of certain benefits, as well as charities and small businesses.
But the scheme’s eligibility widened on Monday morning to allow any Londoner with a non-compliant vehicle to apply, with an additional £50m now added to the total pot.
“We’re very excited that today we’re able to expand the scrappage scheme, which has [already] been in place for the most vulnerable Londoners, now to every Londoner,” said Mr Dance.
“We are confident that [with] the additional funds that we’ve put into the scheme… that we have sufficient funds now. So we would urge every Londoner with a non-Ulez compliant vehicle to apply.”
The deputy mayor confirmed that by “sufficient”, he meant that there is likely to be enough money in the pot for everyone who applies.
“That’s what we expect,” he said.
“Obviously when the scheme launched, we needed to ensure that we had sufficient funds for the most vulnerable, and now we feel that we’re in a position to be able to extend the scheme…
“That’s why we want everybody to apply today, [to] go on the Transport for London (TfL) vehicle checker – tfl.gov.uk – check to see whether your vehicle is compliant… nine in ten cars that we see on the road [being driven on an average day] are already compliant.”
More than £52m of the £160m pot has been allocated so far, comprising almost 13,000 successful grant applications. That leaves around £108m still to be claimed.
Mr Dance added that there had already been “a high number of people” putting in applications as soon as the scheme expanded on Monday morning.
Preparations have been made for the influx, as the number of people handling scrappage queries in TfL’s call centre has been doubled.
“TfL are turning this around very quickly, so there really is no reason not to apply,” the deputy mayor said.
The Ulez requires owners of non-compliant vehicles to pay a daily £12.50 charge if they drive inside the zone.
Its boundaries currently extend to the North and South Circular roads, but mayor Sadiq Khan is expanding it to cover the whole of Greater London on Tuesday next week (August 29).
TfL estimates that drivers of around 200,000 non-compliant vehicles, seen driving on an average day in outer London, are likely to be affected by the expansion. Using this data, TfL expects the London-wide Ulez to reduce the number of cars not meeting the standards each day in outer London from 160,000 to 46,000 and the number of vans not meeting the standards from 42,000 to 26,000 by the end of 2023.
However, figures obtained by the RAC show that more than 690,000 cars registered in the whole of London – including the area already covered by the zone – are likely to be non-compliant. When other vehicles such as vans and lorries are taken into account, the RAC’s number increases to 851,065.
City Hall has previously argued that the RAC’s data less useful than TfL’s estimate for understanding the zone’s impact, because it may include vehicles that are rarely or never used.
Asked earlier this month whether the expanded scrappage scheme would be able to help everyone in London with non-compliant vehicles, Mr Khan said: “My understanding is some people may decide not to change their cars because they drive their cars infrequently. That’s a decision for them.
“What I’m keen to do though is to offer support where we’re able to do so.”