Despite nine out of 10 UK motorists feeling they are ‘sitting ducks’ for the Treasury as the Government collects more than £40bn a year in motoring taxation, Britain’s roads are crumbling, a report suggests.
The condition of the country’s motorways and local roads, characterised by the now year-round problem of potholes, ranks as a top concern for motorists in this year’s RAC Report on Motoring – the longest-running annual survey of drivers, now in its 25th year.
While the cost of driving is understandably still the number one concern for nearly half (46%) of Britain’s battle-scarred and beleaguered motorists, two in five (41%) say maintenance of local roads and motorways is their top spending priority.
In addition, 84% of motorists believe their local roads are deteriorating and three-quarters (75%) think the same about motorways and other major roads.
But the question most motorists just cannot get to grips with is: why isn’t more of the money collected in motoring taxation ring-fenced for maintaining roads?
Four out of five (78%) think the money they pay to Government through motoring taxes is not properly invested in local roads.
The RAC believes that without this investment the Government will be responsible for overseeing a massive decline in the state of our highways which negatively affects consumers and businesses alike, stalls the economy and stores up a huge ‘problem’ bill for future tax payers.
With revenue from fuel duty falling year on year as people drive fewer miles in more fuel efficient vehicles, the RAC Report on Motoring shows there is a real need for a new way of taxing motorists.
The report also found that 90% of the UK’s nearly 30 million car drivers are unhappy or blind to the overall balance of motoring taxation that sees more than £40bn being raised for the Treasury – with only around 22% spent improving and maintaining our national and local roads.
What’s more, a third of motorists surveyed said they are prepared to pay tolls for motorway driving (29%) or city centre congestion charges (33%) if the cost of fuel and car tax was significantly reduced – perhaps signalling a new model for taxing the motorist.
With nine in 10 (89%) relying more than ever on their vehicles for day-to day activities than 25 years ago and more than three quarters (77%) claiming they are struggling to make ends meet because of the cost of fuel, the RAC is now calling on the Government to take urgent action to review the nation’s outdated motoring taxation model.
Unsurprisingly, motorists said that tax levied on fuel and Vehicle Excise Duty (car tax) should represent a smaller share of what they pay. More than 22m drivers (77%) would prefer to pay less fuel tax and half (49%) would like to pay lower levels of car tax.
RAC technical director David Bizley said: “Our Report on Motoring shows that Britain’s motorists – and roads – have been left battle-scarred after a further 12 months of bearing the burden of extreme financial conditions.
“Despite this, motorists are willing to pay their taxes, but want the balance of levies to reflect how they live and how the use their vehicle.
“The report suggests that motorists would prefer to see a higher share of motoring taxation levied on those things over which they have greater control – such as whether or not they choose to drive into city centres or use a particular motorway.
“Our research shows that the UK motorist isn’t being unreasonably demanding – all he or she wants is for more of their motoring taxation to be spent on roads.
“Our message to Government on the back of this landmark 25th edition of the RAC Report on Motoring is that it doesn’t need to be this way – if we make simple changes today we can ensure tomorrow’s generation of motorists can enjoy the UK’s roads for years to come.
“What’s needed is an in-depth review of the overall motoring taxation model and for a reasonable percentage of money raised from drivers to be ring-fenced for roads – that way the ‘unlucky’ motorist can be rid of the 2013 plague of the all-year-round pothole.”
The full 2013 Report on Motoring can be downloaded free-of-charge today from www.rac.co.uk/reportonmotoring.