Brits could be charged for using UK roads in scheme to plug £40bn budget hole

RISHI Sunak is said to be considering a new plan to charge drivers to use the UK’s roads.

The Chancellor is reviewing a new Treasury paper following concerns about the £40 billion budget hole created by the switch to electric vehicles, The Times reports.

It comes as the government are set to announce the ban on the sale of new fossil-fuel guzzling petrol and diesel cars will be brought forward to 2030.

The new scheme forms part of the PM’s ten-point climate plan.

The Times reports No 10 is keen to “seize the initiative” after a week of blowouts between fromer adviser Dominic Cummings and Boris’s fiance, Carrie Symonds.

The paper adds more announcements will follow covering mass coronavirus testing in the run up to Christmas as well as renewed initiatives to improve education and skills development after it was claimed No 10 insiders feared Cummings’ hard-line had damaged Mr Johnson’s premiership.

Downing Street said that the PM wants to send a “clear signal” emphasising his ambitions, and he remains focussed on “levelling up” the country.

Meanwhile, the Chancellor is allegedly “very interested” in the national road pricing idea.

The enthusiasm comes despite supposed concerns in the Treasury about the cost of the green plan, with revenues from fuel duty – one of the biggest earners – set to vanish.

The duty, charged at 57.95p a litre on petrol and diesel vehicles, looks set to bring in £27.5 billion this financial year – more than 1 per cent of national income, say the latest forecasts.

The “increasingly pressing” issue has already been extensively discussed, with an outline drawn up for the potential road pricing scheme, a source said.

It comes as the government brainstorms how to hit its target of reducing emissions to net zero by 2050 and the spike in popularity of electric cars could leave a £40 billion funding gap.

A report by the Institute for Fiscal Studies released in 2019 said a move to eco-friendlier vehicles could be a “huge long-run fiscal challenge for the government”.

The idea of a road charge has been given a wide berth by previous governments, who feared a furious backlash from motorists.

The Labour party ditched similar plans over a decade ago following furious public outcry, with the Tories hesitant to consider the switch seriously – until now, it would appear.

Currently, road pricing is seen on the M6 toll – charging up to £6.70 for cars and £12 for HGVs during the week.

And London’s controversial congestion charge is another example, with other cities looking set to follow in the capital’s footsteps, despite criticism there is no way to assess how long vehicles have spent inside the emissions zones.

It’s thought the only way to truly track this would be through vehicle tracing.

A Treasury source said: “The Treasury regularly explores lots of different policy options. This is no different.”

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