Government grants to drive the uptake of electric cars and vans are benefitting only a handful of motorists and may not be proving effective, MPs suggest.
Launching a new report from the Transport Select Committee on the Government’s plug-in vehicle strategy, committee chair Louise Ellman questioned whether the scheme was a good use of taxpayers’ cash.
She said: “Carbon emissions from transport must be reduced if the UK is to meet its climate change targets, but public money must be targeted on effective policies.
“So far, Department for Transport expenditure on plug-in cars – some £11 million – has benefited just a handful of motorists. We were warned of the risk that the Government is subsidising second cars for affluent households; currently plug-in cars are mostly being purchased as second cars for town driving.”
The latest figures available from the Department for Transport reveal that 1,706 claims have been made through the Plug-in Car Grant scheme while just 99 claims have been made through the Plug-in Van Grant scheme.
Ellman continued: “It is also unclear whether the provision of public charging infrastructure encourages demand for plug-in cars. Indeed, the Government does not even have a register of all the chargepoints installed at public expense.
“Ministers should not sit back and hope that the Government’s policy on plug-in cars will reduce transport carbon emissions. Far more work is required to ensure that this programme is a good use of public funds.”
The committee is recommending that the Department for Transport (DfT) should clarify the reasons for the under spend in its low carbon vehicle programme.
As part of the next spending review, it should also set milestones for the numbers of plug-in cars it expects to see on the roads so that the success of its low carbon vehicles strategy can be assessed within that spending review period.
The committee says that the DfT needs to evaluate how effectively the provision of public infrastructure is encouraging consumer demand for plug-in vehicles.
It should make sure that vehicle owners can access chargepoints across the UK and it should also set out how it will work to remove barriers to chargepoint access across the country.
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