£110m scrappage scheme launched as part of Ulez expansion - but critics say it isn't enough

The new scrappage scheme and grace periods will help drivers of the remaining non-Ulez compliant vehicles prepare. Credit: PA

A £110m scrappage scheme to support businesses, charities, people on lower incomes and disabled Londoners to replace old, polluting vehicles with greener options has been launched as critics repeated their calls for the low emissions plan itself to be scrapped.

Drivers whose cars fail the Ultra Low Emission Charge standards can apply for a grant to either scrap their vehicles or retrofit their old, polluting vehicles from 30 January.

Londoners receiving certain means-tested benefits and non-means-tested disability benefits can apply for cash grants of up to £2,000 to scrap their non-compliant cars or motorcycles.

Disabled people who want to scrap or retrofit a non-compliant wheelchair-accessible vehicle will be able to apply for grants of £5,000.

Liberal Democrat London Assembly member Caroline Pidgeon says the scheme "does not go anywhere near enough to help Londoners clean up their vehicles"

Charities, sole traders and businesses with 10 or fewer employees registered in London can apply to scrap a van (£5,000 grant) or a minibus (£7,000 grant), retrofit certain vans or minibuses (£5,000 grant) or scrap and replace a van or minibus with a fully electric vehicle (£7,500 or £9,500 grant respectively).   

Applicants also have the option of receiving a combination of cash and annual bus and tram passes, too.

It follows Mr Khan's announcement in November last year that the Ulez will be expanded to cover the whole of the capital from August 29 2023 to boost air quality.

The decision means hundreds of thousands of drivers who own older, more polluting vehicles will face a daily fee of £12.50 for using London’s roads.

The scheme is currently limited to the area within the North and South Circular roads.

Blue zone shows current ULEZ zone, green shows current LEZ zone and expanded ULEZ zone Credit: TfL

Expansion of the Ulez will be launched on 29 August 2023 and will mean hundreds of thousands more drivers face a daily fee of £12.50 for using London's roads.

The scheme could cost commuters £ 3,250 a year at a time when they are already facing soaring household bills.

Mr Khan said extending Ulez to cover the whole of the capital was "one of the toughest decisions" he has had to take but argues it will give five million Londoners cleaner air to breathe.

A report commissioned by Transport for London estimated that 30,000 non-compliant vans currently use the Ulez expansion area each day.

Londoners receiving some means-tested benefits can apply for cash grants to scrap their non ULEZ-compliant vehicle. Credit: ITV News

But figures from Auto Trader – which says it is used by around 80% of UK vehicle retailers – show there are just 5,181 vans for sale across London and south-east England on its online marketplace.

Its total for the whole of the UK is 23,803.

Tory-controlled councils, including Bexley, Bromley, Croydon, Harrow and Hillingdon are calling for the scheme to be scrapped.

Meanwhile, three Liberal Democrat councils - Sutton, Kingston and Richmond - want the scheme to be delayed and even some Labour councils citing are calling the timescale into question and have voiced reservations about the help available.

Barking and Dagenham Council leader Darren Rodwell expressed his concerns on Twitter last week.

"We have made the case to TfL that we need a much more comprehensive and generous scrappage and support scheme for outer London, and a greater lead-in time for people to take advantage of any schemes given the cost-of-living pressures facing people at the moment," he wrote.

The application process for the scrappage scheme will be online, and you will need to upload evidence to prove your identity and eligibility.

To apply, the vehicle must also have valid road tax, MOT and insurance and have been registered to an eligible registered keeper for more than 12 months prior to 30 January 2023, when the scheme launches. You'll also need to upload the vehicle's V5C (log book).

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Drivers will need to live within one of the 32 London boroughs or the City of London and receive certain benefits in order to be eligible for the scheme. If an owner received a grant payment from the previous ULEZ car and motorcycle scrappage scheme, they cannot apply again.

Any vehicle in the scheme must be registered with the DVLA while having insurance, valid road tax, and MOT. Its owner must also have been the registered keeper 12 months prior to the launch of the scrappage scheme (January 30, 2023).

Drivers looking to take part in the scheme must be receiving one or more of a list of benefits which includes Universal Credit, Child Tax Credit and Housing Benefit, among others.