Road tax evasion is set to cost the Government nearly £80 million, despite the widespread use of automatic number plate recognition cameras to catch law breakers.
The Department for Transport (DfT) estimates that £79 million in revenue will be lost between 2007/8 due to road tax evasion, which amounts to 589,000 unlicensed vehicles on the roads.
The figures appear to represent an official climb-down on evasion estimates.
Just weeks ago, the Commons Public Accounts Committee quoted the number of unlicensed motorcycles at 40% (Fleet News, 31 January).
However these figures have now been significantly reduced.
According to the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA), the body charged with catching tax-dodgers, just 9.8% of Britain’s motorcycles are untaxed.
David Taylor, chief executive of the Motor Cycle Industry Association, said: “The DfT should be embarrassed and should apologise to the vast majority of riders who clearly do pay VED.”
The DVLA also found that 5.2% of other vehicles, including cars and LCVs, continue to evade the tax
“This very high level of tax evasion suggests that the new enforcement regime is not working,” said Liberal Democrat shadow transport secretary Norman Baker.
"The DVLA must redouble its efforts to clamp down on tax evaders.”