Charges for company cars participating in a fleet scheme will increase from £5.50 to £7 from July and the general charge for those who pay for use on a daily basis will increase from £5 to £8.
Congestion charge officials stress that discounts offered to companies whose drivers regular enter the zone will ensure less of them incur penalty notices for forgetting to pay the charge. Those paying monthly will receive three charge-free days and those who pay annually will have 40.
Announcing the increase, London mayor Ken Livingstone said: ‘In response to requests from business and fleet operators to make the charge easier to pay and to reduce the impact of the charge on business, the daily charge for vehicles on the fleet scheme will be set at £7.
‘In addition, large discounts on monthly and annual payments will make the charge easier to pay for regular users and should lead to fewer penalty charge notices being incurred by drivers who forget to pay the charge.’
When plans to increase the charge were first proposed last year officials at the British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association accused Livingstone of ‘daylight robbery’. Director-general John Lewis said: ‘Livingstone has once again taken the soft target of the motorist who has to drive into central London and hit him where it hurts most – below the belt and in the pocket.’
On the increase, Livingstone said: ‘Congestion charging has been in place for just over two years. It has achieved its key objective of reducing congestion and has also provided an additional stream of revenue to help the funding of other transport measures within my transport strategy.’
The charge was first introduced in the capital in February 2003 and has been credited with reducing congestion in central London by 30%, or 70,000 vehicles.