After a turbulent 2022 with record fuel prices at forecourts, many drivers will be wondering whether things will improve in 2023. The RAC has looked at what drivers can expect from a raft of Government policy changes across the country.
Fuel duty (April)
Currently: In the face of rising pump prices last March, the now Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced a 5p a litre fuel duty cut to run until Spring 2023. This meant duty was reduced from 57.95p to 52.95p. The RAC has led calls for the cut to remain in place, arguing that increasing it once again would result in higher costs for drivers and would impact inflation.
Possible changes: The duty cut was only intended to last for a year, which means as things stand, drivers can expect at least 5p a litre to be added back on to their fuel at the pumps come April 2023. This will also increase VAT slightly, which is charged on top. In addition, as highlighted by the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) in November, fuel duty is due to undergo its scheduled annual RPI rise which means it may lead to further forecourt increases. The OBR estimates the cost of fuel could increase by 12p a litre if the Government does not change policy. All eyes will be on the Chancellor’s Spring Budget on 15th March 2023.
London ultra-low emission zone (ULEZ) expansion (August)
Currently: Introduced in central London in April 2019, the scheme operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and requires drivers of vehicles that are not compliant with its emissions standards to pay a daily charge of £12.50. In October 2021, the scheme was expanded to cover a much wider area up to the North and South Circular roads.
Changes: The Mayor announced that from 29th August 2023, the scheme would be further expanded to cover the entire Greater London area. Drivers can find out whether their vehicle is compliant by using TfL’s checker, but they should be aware that driving into the Greater London boundary area in a vehicle that does not meet ULEZ standards will mean they have to pay the charge. Failure to do so will result in a penalty charge notice of £160 being issued.
TfL scrappage scheme (January)
Currently: When the Mayor announced the ULEZ expansion, he also laid out plans to introduce a car and motorcycle scrappage scheme.
Changes: Vehicles that are not compliant with ULEZ standards might be eligible to take part in the Mayor’s scrappage scheme. To check if you and your vehicle may qualify for the scheme, which opens on 30th January 2023, click here.
Clean air zones being introduced in two cities (January & February)
Currently: There are currently five clean air zones (CAZ) similar to London’s ultra-low emission zone in operation in England. Vehicles that don’t meet certain emissions standards have to pay a daily fee to drive in the zones. However, there are different categories of clean air zones which means car drivers might be excluded from paying a fee. England’s five clean air zones are: Birmingham, Bristol, Bradford, Bath and Portsmouth.
Changes: Sheffield is set to introduce a clean air zone on 27th February 2023, while Tyneside (including Newcastle and Gateshead) will launch its scheme on 30th January 2023. Greater Manchester’s CAZ is currently under review, but a revised scheme might also be introduced later in the year.
Low emission zones in Scotland (June 2023 and 2024)
Currently: Clean air zones are called low emission zones in Scotland. The Scottish Government set a target for its four largest cities – Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Dundee – to improve air quality.
Changes: Glasgow will begin enforcement in June 2023, though residents inside the zone will be exempt until June 2024. The other three cities will begin enforcement in 2024.
Pavement parking ban in Scotland (TBC)
Current: Though legislation was passed by the Scottish Parliament in 2019 to ban pavement parking, the pandemic delayed guidance being issued to local authorities, so the Scottish Government put it on hold.
Changes: The delayed regulations should come into force in 2023, meaning that any sort of pavement parking, except where there are exemptions, on Scotland’s streets will be punishable with a penalty charge notice that can be issued by local authorities.
Parking Code of Practice Act to better regulate the private sector (end 2023)
Current: The implementation of the Parking (Code of Practice) Act 2019 – strongly campaigned for by the RAC – legislates for a code of practice and a single appeals system. Owing to challenges from the private parking sector, the introduction of the code has been delayed pending a review of the proposed cap on parking charge notices and the ban on debt recovery fees.
Changes: The Government will publish an impact assessment and further consultation with a view to the new code going live by the end of 2023, subject to no further delays.
Heavy goods vehicles levy payment (August 2023)
Current: The HGV Road user levy applies to vehicles of 12 tonnes or more. The levy aims to make sure these vehicles contribute to improving the condition of the road network. The levy amount varies according to the vehicle’s weight and axle configuration among other things. The levy was suspended in 2020 amid the pandemic and subsequent HGV driver shortage.
Changes: From August 2023, the levy will be reintroduced.
Moving traffic offence enforcement by local authorities (TBC)
Current: Last year local authorities were for the first time allowed to apply for powers to enforce moving traffic offences, currently carried out by the police. Such offences include disobeying no left/right/u-turn signs, no entry signs or stopping unlawfully on a yellow box junction. A handful of authorities were granted powers in 2022.
Changes: Though there are no specific changes, we anticipate that more local authorities will apply to be granted these powers.
ETIAS – European Travel Information and Authorisation System
Current: Following Britain’s exit from the European Union (EU), there have been discussions regarding the future of travel for Brits on the continent. And in November 2023, a new type of travel document will be introduced – European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS). Currently there is no electronic system that allows the EU to monitor visitors from countries who do not need a visa to enter the Schengen Zone. This is where the ETIAS is changing travel within the region later this year.
Changes: In the words of the European Commission, it ‘resembles the U.S. Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA)’ – and serves a very similar purpose. Non-EU nationals who previously did not need a visa to travel to the Schengen Zone will now have to apply for a travel authorisation through the ETIAS system prior to their journey. ETIAS will be a mandatory part for travellers in order to gain entry to the Schengen Zone. It will be checked by border security alongside your passport and other relevant paperwork.