Friday, 14 March 2008

Darling schmarling

I'm not a happy bunny. Or a happy car owner for that matter. Let me make one thing clear before I start: I have no problem with the government wanting to cut CO2 emissions. In fact I'd go so far as to say that I am positively pro the idea. It is right that those buying new, emission heavy vehicles should pay for the right to pollute. Such taxes are a necessary evil in my mind. It is important to encourage people when buying a new car, to buy the more eco-friendly option.

My unhappy bunny status comes from Alastair Darling's plan for cars registered before 2001. These are the cars that didn't have their carbon emissions tested. Up until this week's budget they were taxed according to engine size: £120 a year for cars under 1549cc and £185 a year for cars over that level. Fine. I drive a 2000 Skoda Fabia 1.4 - off goes £120 each year to the Treasury. I can deal with that. However, following Mr Darling's budget I will now have to pay a flat rate of £200 a year for the privilege of having my car on the road. Now it's quite possible that this is in fact the right level of tax for my car if it's carbon emissions were measured. I have no idea. My problem is that the government is clearly discriminating against those of us who cannot afford to buy a new car. The only way to reduce the amount of road tax we pay is to buy a new (or at the most 7 year old) car with a low emission output. I have no doubt that that option is sadly out of reach for many, including myself. Why he couldn't just leave the current pre-2001 system in place is beyond me. Of course, it's a nice little earner for the Treasury isn't it? I'm growing cynical in my old age. But I blame that on the government too. Cynicism is born of dashed hopes, something that Gordon Brown and his friends seem to do a nice line in.
N.B. (added 17/03) It would appear that I have been misinformed by The Daily Telegraph. That'll teach me for believing everything I read! According to the official budget report on the Downing Street website, pre-2001 cars will continue to be taxed according to engine size. That is £120 for under 1549 ccs and £185 for cars over 1549ccs. In 2009/2010 the upper rate will increase to £200 whilst the lower will remain at £120. Hurrah! Perhaps I was a little harsh on Mr Darling.

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