Injustice to motorists, my foot!

20 Mar

The RAC Foundation complained today that motorists pay £32 billion in taxation each year but only get a ‘paltry’ £10 billion spent on road-building.

OK, so what if they had remembered to include the £8 billion ‘cost’ per year for road fatalities (Audit Commission, 2008), the £8-20 billion ‘cost’ of  the 50,000 early deaths caused by air pollution, much of it caused by road traffic (Commons Environmental Audit Committee, 2010 ) and the £7 billion negative effects of the emission of 90 million tonnes of CO2 emissions per year (DfT National Transport Model Road Forecasts 2011, page 52, at an estimated cost of £70 per tonne (Social cost of carbon OECD)? Include those and the direct measurable costs of motoring have reached £33 – 45 billion comfortably exceeds what motorists pay, even without considering of noise pollution, loss of amenity and military campaigns aimed at protecting access to fossil fuels!

Also, why does one have to keep on reminding these organisations that taxation is expected to cover more than the direct consequences of the activity? Not doing so is like a gambler complaining that it is unfair that taxation from gambling brings in more money that is spent on the negative social to families and communities of gambling addiction, or a drinker/ smoker complaining that taxation exceeds the negative effects to society and family of their activity. Check out the great campaign, iPaxRoadTax for a history lesson in how motorists have been pleading for special tax treatment since Winston Churchill ended the Road Fund in 1937!

7 Responses to “Injustice to motorists, my foot!”

  1. Andy in Germany March 21, 2012 at 11:16 am #

    Excellent post, and thanks for al the time it must have taken to gather the information and studies you quoted.

    We get the same level of whining here in Germany, in fact it’s much worse because we also have a massive car building lobby who lobby hard for infrastructure for their products. We even have a “Ministry of roadbuilding” which not suprisingly is rather keen to keep doing what they’ve done for the last fifty years…

    • Peter Miller March 21, 2012 at 9:40 pm #

      Thanks, and it is amazing to think that this little blog is getting noticed in other countries; WordPress tells me that I have had visits from 65 countries in the past month, with UK top by a long way for obvious reasons, followed by the USA, Australia, Netherlands, Germany and 60 others. Until recently it was only industry that could organise across national boundaries this easily!

  2. Graham Martin-Royle March 21, 2012 at 5:09 pm #

    Motorists are so hard done by! I get fed up of the whinging, the whining, the never ending complaints about how down trodden they are.

  3. Roger Hodgson March 22, 2012 at 9:07 pm #

    Superb journalism – it would be great if professional hacks could come out with this.

    The interesting thing (to me) about this issue is the black economy’s involvement. Back during the fuel price protests and refinery blockades, key movers were very shady characters who would pay no tax if it weren’t for fuel duty and VAT.

    Also interesting is the obsession with headline figures – £100 to fill a family car. Eh? I have a medium-largish family car that’s never cost more than £70 to fill and a tank lasts for weeks on end. If only people had to pay their income tax, NI and council tax weekly using chip and pin or even cash, they might whine about more than just tax on petrol.

    • Graham Martin-Royle March 24, 2012 at 6:44 pm #

      Interesting take on tax. I like that. It might just stop the whining.

  4. overwired April 13, 2012 at 4:50 pm #

    There’s also the rent that motorists should be paying for the huge swathes of land that cars take away from non-motorists, the time taken waiting at pedestrian crossings (cars are almost always given priority) etc…

    • newbie cyclist May 25, 2012 at 11:30 pm #

      You mention it as a secondary issue, but actually I think the rental value of the land is a huge issue that the likes of the RAC never seem to even notice.

      I’d like to ask the great minds of the RAC this question: If you rent a house, do you expect to only pay the cost of building that house, and nothing at all in rent or for the land it sits on?

      Because this seems to be the logic of the continual comparison we get between VED and road building costs. It suggests those making the comparison have some sort of difficulty with reasoning.

      Urban space in particular is a precious commodity, in _very_ short supply. Yet motorists appear to think they are simply entitled to grab a huge, (and strategically crucially placed) amount of it for their exclusive use – and all they should have to pay is the building (or maintenance?) cost of new roads.

      VED is a small token payment towards the other costs associated with motoring that you mention (with, for me, particular emphasis on air pollution – I never gave my consent to have my air filled with their crap, not at any price).

      It doesn’t even begin to cover the rental value of that land. That land belongs to the UK population in common and if motorists want the priority use of it that they think they are entitled to, they really ought to be paying a lot more than they currently do. A _lot_ more.

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