‘Public opinion has shifted’: Drivers in favour of ‘fairer’ road pricing over car taxes


    The new data, from the Social Market Foundation think tank, found that drivers are more likely to support road pricing than oppose it. Road pricing is a system of charging drivers for their use of the roads, whereby those who drive more frequently pay more in tax than those who drive less frequently.

    Support for road pricing was broadly consistent across income groups and regions, the SMF found. 

    Drivers were actually slightly more positive about the policy than non-drivers: 40 percent of drivers in the SMF-Opinium polling support the introduction of road pricing.

    Another 36 percent of people said they neither support nor oppose road-pricing, suggesting a significant cohort open to persuasion.

    Scott Corfe, Research Director at the Social Market Foundation, said: “For too long politicians have thought of reforming motoring taxes as grasping the nettle, fearful that a backlash from drivers will hit them at the polls. 

    “Voters will not punish them for seeking an equitable reform of motor taxation.”

    According to the survey, a clear majority of respondents said that motoring taxes are a much heavier burden and more unfair than other taxes.

    The SMF said dislike of the existing system and relative support for road pricing should encourage ministers to begin exploring how to design a fairer approach to motoring taxation, bolster the public finances and ensure that driving better reflects negative costs like pollution and congestion. 

    They suggested that the Government should carefully consider how it designs any future system of road pricing with different options boosting and cutting public support.

    A free mileage allowance and using revenue to improve public transport infrastructure and the road network make a road pricing regime more appealing to the public, the SMF found.  

    Reforms could also ensure that road pricing is fairer than fuel duty, reducing the burden on lower income households.

    Around 41 percent of respondents supported road pricing based on making an annual payment based on how much they drive every year.

    Opposition increased when respondents were asked if they would accept a “black box” in their vehicle or a mobile app tracking their mileage.  


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