Saturday, 2 Mar 2024

Homeowners slapped with Sadiq Khan’s ULEZ fees without even leaving the house

Plumbers, builders and carpenters feel like they are left with “no choice” but to pass on the cost of the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) fee to their customers, leaving homeowners hit with charges without even leaving their homes.

The ULEZ expansion at the end of August, extended the scheme to all 32 London boroughs, meaning thousands of tradesmen who do not work in central London have to pay the traffic charge.

Danny Madden of Madden Builders in London warned his customers of increasing costs: “We’ve even had instances where we said to clients, when Ulez was starting, that we need to add the charge of £12.50 per day onto jobs. If you’ve got something over six weeks then that is a massive increase.”

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Speaking to the Telegraph, Mr Madden said the £7,000 scrappage support payment was “nowhere near enough” when the business was forced to get rid of their old van which originally cost £30,000.

He added: “The second-hand market knows they can push their prices up – it’s difficult to get supply. When we found that truck there were four other people who all wanted it and were ready to put down deposits.”

On average, if tradesmen face a ULEZ charge five days a week while working on a six-week project, they will pay £375 as a result of the boundary changes.

Other tradesmen, such as MD Ahmed, of Prefix Plumbing and Heating, said his engineers also felt forced to pass charges on.

He said: “We have had to add more prices for customers. The customers aren’t happy but it is what it is.”

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Diesel vans that are not compliant with Euro 6 standards are subject to the daily ULEZ charge, which includes most vehicles built before 2016.

Conor Lawlor, who set up his business, Raw Wood Projects, earlier this year, has laid out £20,000 on a new van, and said he regularly needs to spend £350 having its filter cleaned.

He said the charges had “caused me a lot of grief” and that he knew “10 other people” who were having to make the same decision about their current vans.

Ahead of the expansion, HMRC confirmed that tradesmen could choose to claim back the cost of the low-emission charge on their tax returns as travel expenses instead. 

A TfL spokesperson told “The decision to expand the Ultra Low Emission Zone London-wide was not an easy one, but necessary to tackle toxic air pollution and the climate crisis. Around 4,000 Londoners die prematurely each year due to toxic air. Children are growing up with stunted lungs and thousands of people in our city are developing life-changing illnesses, such as cancer, lung disease, dementia and asthma.

They added eight out of 10 vans and nine out of 10 cars seen driving in outer London on an average day are already ULEZ compliant, and highlighted the benefits of the scrappage scheme, stating grants of £7,000 available for scrapping a non-compliant van.

The spokesperson further said: “Grants of £6,000 are also available for retrofitting a non-compliant van, enough to cover the whole cost, meaning drivers don’t have to purchase a new vehicle. A six-month grace period from paying the ULEZ charge is in place for sole traders and small businesses who place a new vehicle order or book a retrofit before 29 November 2023.”

“The expansion of the ULEZ will bring the benefits of the scheme to a further five million Londoners living in outer London, where over half of the deaths attributable to air pollution occur.”

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