More than 750,000 of the cars on UK roads are untaxed, new figures suggest.
There are more than three-quarters of a million untaxed vehicles on the roads of Britain, costing the government around £100 million a year, new figures have revealed.
Estimates from the Department for Transport (DfT) suggest that as many as 755,000 vehicles on British roads could be untaxed – around 1.8 percent of the total number of vehicles.
Over the past four years, the percentage of untaxed vehicles has steadily risen, up from 0.6 percent in 2013 and 1.4 percent in 2015.
The government says the total cost to the exchequer could be as much as £107 million, but this is unlikely as some of this lost revenue will have been recovered by the DVLA’s enforcement programme.
Road tax, which is officially known as Vehicle Excise Duty, or VED, is a legal requirement for every vehicle used on the public road, although some vehicles – such as historic cars or traction engines – are zero-rated, meaning they qualify for free VED.
According to the DfT, the highest rates of VED evasion were found in the West Midlands and North West, where around two percent of vehicles were untaxed, while the overwhelming majority (79 percent) of untaxed vehicles were cars and vans.
A further 14 percent of those untaxed vehicles were motorcycles, while just one percent were HGVs and buses.
The remaining six percent was made up of so-called ‘exempt’, or zero-rated vehicles.
Of the untaxed vehicles on the road, the figures show that more than half (52 percent) had been unlicensed for less than two months, which might suggest that their drivers had simply forgotten to renew the car’s tax. However, a worrying 12 percent were driving while on a Statutory Off-Road Notification (SORN), while three percent had never been licensed.
The RAC described the findings as ‘extremely concerning’ and said that the 2014 abolition of the paper tax disc was partly to blame for drivers’ failure to tax their vehicles.
‘Clearly, since the tax disc was abolished in 2014 there has been a significant increase in untaxed vehicles on our roads, with the figure now in excess of three-quarters of a million,’ said RAC public affairs manager Nicholas Lyes.
‘This latest data suggests it is now costing the Treasury more than £107m in lost revenue over a full year – higher than in any year since 2007. The Treasury noted that abolishing the paper tax disc would save £10m, but it now seems the changes are proving extremely costly.
‘It appears that having a visual reminder was an effective way to prompt drivers into renewing their car tax. Arguably more drivers are now prepared to try their luck and see if they can get away with not paying any vehicle tax at all, or are simply forgetting to tax their vehicle when they are due to.
‘The principle of abolishing the tax disc to introduce greater efficiencies has, so far, evidently failed.’