17 July 2023 by Neil Addley

Jolt Towards Poverty

Out of touch politicians hit the less well off again… and again.

In the quest for net zero, the UK government's ambitious plan to ban the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2030 was a Johnsonian headline grabbing dream. Sure, it paints an enticing picture, a future where cities are no longer choked with pollution and our reliance on fossil fuels is a distant memory. However, while the motivations behind these policies may be noble, (or just a distraction from covid partying??) it's important we think about the impact on society's most vulnerable and financially strained.

The UK's drive towards zero-emissions does not exist in a vacuum and is out of step with the US and the EU. Add to that the London Mayor's push for an Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) across the suburbs will hit working people right in the cobblers.

EV’s are pricey and the infrastructure inadequate. And yet the penalty - £12.50 a day - £375 per month – will “drive” people out of work. We’ve already got rising interest rates and expensive energy bills, food and even water. The implementation of such a blanket tax across the city, without regard for the financial means of those affected, reveals a glaring lack of empathy. It is, in effect, a regressive tax that disproportionately impacts the less well-off, who are least able to replace their vehicles with greener alternatives.

Even if the cars get cheaper where can you charge them? There is a well-documented lack of charging points across the country. According to the Daily Mail, more in Westminster than across Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds, Newcastle, and Sheffield combined! And Westminster also has the tube, buses, cabs, and most places are in walking distance.

This poses a significant problem for city-dwellers, in particular, those living in flats and terraced houses, where installing private chargers is not always an option. The mayor and the government must start to address this shortfall immediately if its 2030 goal is to be anything more than a pipe dream.

The cost of the switch to electric is another critical factor that disproportionately affects lower-income individuals and families. While EVs have decreased in price, they remain more expensive than their petrol counterparts. That’s why most people are reluctant to change.

Furthermore, these charges don't only affect those who drive but will stoke inflation. They will inevitably lead to higher costs for goods and services – you can’t carry a carpet on a bike(!) as well as public transport, taxis, and delivery services. All of these costs will be passed on to consumers, once again hitting the pockets of those least able to afford it.

As we accelerate towards a greener future, we’re in danger of leaving less well-off people behind. The environmental crisis is a collective issue requiring collective solutions. But to solve one crisis, we must not deepen another – the abuse of economic inequality.

Sustainable initiatives should be just that - sustainable, not only for the environment but for people and their livelihoods. Both the conservative government and labour mayor must recognise this and mitigate the negative impacts of their policies on the less well-off. We need to work towards a fair solution that works for everyone. Only then can we truly say we are driving towards a better future.


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Neil Addley

Hi, I’m Neil, the Managing Director and Founder of JudgeService. I have worked in the automotive industry for over 30 years. I have a passion for outstanding customer service and believe that reviews and insights can help businesses improve their customer’s experiences every time.

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