ULEZ scrappage scheme open to all Londoners but Tories say its “too little too late”

The additional £50m in funding will increase the total scrappage funding from £110m to £160m.
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The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan has extended the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) scrappage scheme to all Londoners ahead of the expansion later this month.

Grants of up to £2,000 will now be made available to all Londoners who wish to scrap any car or motorcycle that is non-compliant with the zone’s emissions standards.

Prior to the extension, eligibility to apply for the scheme was limited to certain groups, including people on low income or disability benefits, businesses and charities, but now from Monday August 21 everyone in the capital is eligible to apply.

The payment for vans will rise from £5,000 to £7,000, with small businesses and sole traders able to receive up to £21,000 in grants to scrap up to three vans.

However, the scrappage scheme is not retrospective - meaning those who have already paid for a new vehicle will not be reimbursed.

The Conservatives have described this latest move as “too little too late.”

Conservative mayoral candidate Susan Hall said: "This is too little, too late from Sadiq Khan, who is facing mounting pressure from Londoners and his own party.

“Thousands of families, small businesses and charities face financial ruin because of Sadiq Khan’s ULEZ expansion, which will do next to nothing to improve air quality. If I am elected Mayor, I will reverse this disastrous policy and replace it with a £50m fund to reduce air pollution without taxing people.”

ULEZ is being expanded to cover almost all of Greater London from August 29, meaning drivers of older, more polluting vehicles will face a £12.50 daily charge.

This new concession, funded by £50m of City Hall reserves, follows a period of increased pressure on Mayor Khan’s flagship clean-air initiative due to the Uxbridge and South Ruislip by-election result, which saw the Tories hold onto Boris Johnson’s former seat.

Following Labour candidate Danny Beale’s defeat, party leader Sir Keir Starmer urged the Labour mayor to "reflect" on the ULEZ expansion.

Keith Prince AM, City Hall Conservatives transport spokesperson described the move as an “act of desperation” from the mayor to appease members of his own party.

“The best thing he could do is U-turn and adopt some policies that would actually clean the air, such as accelerating the move to zero emission buses,” said Prince.

Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, has announced the ULEZ scrappage scheme will be expanded to include all Londoners with a non-compliant car or motorcycle. Credit: Justin Setterfield/Getty Images.Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, has announced the ULEZ scrappage scheme will be expanded to include all Londoners with a non-compliant car or motorcycle. Credit: Justin Setterfield/Getty Images.
Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, has announced the ULEZ scrappage scheme will be expanded to include all Londoners with a non-compliant car or motorcycle. Credit: Justin Setterfield/Getty Images.

But mayor Khan has stuck by his own policy saying: “I have always said that expanding the ULEZ to the whole of London was a difficult decision, and not one I took lightly – but it’s a decision I remain committed to seeing through.

“I’m not prepared to step back, delay or water down vital green policies like ULEZ, which will not only save lives and protect children’s lungs by cleaning up our polluted air but help us to fight the climate crisis.”

The mayor’s intervention was welcomed by disability rights champion Dr Kush Kanodia, who said it was "great news for the disabled community and shows campaigns from disabled people can have a significant impact to change the policy in Greater London".

The additional £50m in funding will increase the total scrappage funding from £110m to £160m.

Tim Dexter, clean air lead at Asthma + Lung UK, said: "ULEZ is about reducing the number of polluting vehicles on the road and helping every Londoner breathe cleaner air, including the estimated 585,000 people living with asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease living across London.

"Schemes like ULEZ are proven to reduce air pollution - a public health emergency contributing to 4,000 early deaths in London every year."

Responding to the scheme’s expansion, Liberal Democrat London Assembly Member (AM) and transport spokesperson Caroline Pidgeon said: “It’s about time the mayor listened to the Liberal Democrat calls for an expanded scrappage scheme.

“Whilst we welcome the Labour mayor at last listening, he could have saved Londoners a lot of stress and worry in the cost-of-living crisis if he had accepted our budget amendments in January and February.

“There are also questions over what happens to those who were financially vulnerable who have dug deep to scrape money together for a new vehicle, but it now turns out would have been eligible for the scheme?

“We will continue to call on the mayor for a longer lead in time - as with previous expansions of ULEZ - and for a reversal to the 12 million miles he has cut from London bus routes since 2016.”

London Assembly Labour’s Environment Spokesperson, Leonie Cooper AM said: “This latest announcement from the mayor to increase his ULEZ scrappage scheme to £160m and expand eligibility to all Londoners with non-compliant vehicles is a welcome one and demonstrates that he has listened to Londoners.

“The mayor has been clear that the decision to expand the ULEZ to outer London was not an easy one but it is necessary to improve the health of Londoners. Taking the most polluting vehicles off the road will make a real difference to cleaning up the capital’s air - even more Londoners will feel that benefit.”