Sadiq Khan brands claims Ulez is unaffordable as ‘nonsense’ as he announces new scrappage grant

4 August 2023, 12:09

Sadiq Khan has announced more support as he expands Ulez
Sadiq Khan has announced more support as he expands Ulez. Picture: Alamy

By Sam Rucker

Sadiq Khan claimed it’s “nonsense” to suggest Ulez is unaffordable, as he announced a new grant offering every Londoner thousands of pounds to scrap their non-compliant cars.

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The mayor told LBC’s James O’Brien that he had “listened to Londoners” as he discussed a new scheme that will see everyone in the capital, whose car does not meet Ulez’s emissions standards, be eligible for a £2,000 grant from August 21.

Khan said his team had searched a price comparison website and found over 5,000 cars in the London area for under £2,000.

“So don’t believe the nonsense that every single person with a car in London will be caught out by Ulez,” he said.

Sadiq Khan has announced new support for all Londoners as Ulez expands
Sadiq Khan has announced new support for all Londoners as Ulez expands. Picture: Alamy

According to Khan, the announcement represented the most generous scheme of its kind, in the world.

“And not a penny came from the government,” he added.

Small businesses and sole traders will also be able to claim up to £21,000 to scrap as many as three vans and get them replaced. Charities can get up to £27,000 to scrap three minibuses.

Support for people needing wheelchair-friendly vehicles with see the initial £5,000 of support double to £10,000 due to the expensive modifications required.

Motorbikes are also included.

Opponents fiercely hate the scheme's expansion
Opponents fiercely hate the scheme's expansion. Picture: Alamy

Khan said: “I’m simply not willing to delay, step back or water down vital health and green policies. I’m not going to apologise for trying to tackle the climate emergency.”

“And this policy has been proved to reduce carbon emission, tackle the climate emergency and tackle air pollution.”

Read more: Home Counties rebel against Ulez: Six out of seven councils refuse to allow signs

A host of other support is also due to kick in today, including:

  • Increased payments of £7,000 for small businesses and charities to scrap vans, up from £5,000
  • Those with wheelchair accessible vehicles can get £7,000, up from £9,000
  • Grants for replacing non-compliant vans with electric vans rise from £7,500 to £9,500, while scrapping minibuses for electric ones can fetch up to £11,500, up from £9,500
  • Retrofit grants rise to £6,000 from £5,000

The funding comes from £50m of City Hall's reserves. Initially, scrappage schemes were aimed at people on lower incomes and with disabilities.

Read more: Tories target ending 20mph zones as Sunak declares he is 'on the drivers' side' against ULEZ and LTNs

Ulez will soon cover all of London
Ulez will soon cover all of London. Picture: Alamy

Khan has tied his political reputation to the scheme, claiming it is essential to bring down 4,000 premature deaths linked to air pollution and prevent children from developing stunted lungs or conditions like asthma and heart disease.

About 90% of cars seen in outer London on an average day are already compliant, he said.

However, non-complaint vehicles are charged £12.50, infuriating drivers who have already faced more expensive fuel prices, pay the congestion charge and battle against low traffic neighbourhoods that have been popping up in the capital.

They have been joined by Conservative councils, though those recently failed in a High Court bid to block the scheme expanding to cover all of London.

It will encompass the entire capital from August 29.

Tory home county councils have even refused to put up Ulez signs on their territory.

Khan will hope these measures help to quell ferocious opposition to it after Labour failed to flip Boris Johnson's old seat of Uxbridge and South Ruislip from the Conservatives, who just clung on by hundreds of votes in last month's by-election.

The Tories effectively turned the campaign into a referendum on Ulez, prompting some in the party to suggest they row back on green measures.

Khan has refused to tone down his plans even after Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer hinted at concerns with the policy in the wake of the defeat.

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