It's no April Fool's joke; the HGV Road User Levy will go live today (1 April) and require all vehicles of more than 12 tonnes being used or kept on a UK road to pay a specific time-based charge. CM gives you the full facts...
What is it?
The government passed the HGV Road User Levy Act on 28 February 2013. It introduces a specific time-based charge for using or keeping an HGV weighing 12 tonnes or more on a public road in the UK.
Why introduce it?
The key objective is to ensure a fairer arrangement for UK hauliers. Foreign-registered HGVs do not pay to use UK roads.
Who is affected?
All trucks weighing more than 12 tonnes.
The Department for Transport (DfT) puts this at approximately 260,000 UK-registered trucks. The agency estimates that 130,000 foreign-registered HGVs enter the UK every year.
How does it work for UK-registered trucks?
From 1 April, UK-registered vehicles will pay levy costs at the same time and in the same transaction as vehicle excise duty (VED) with payments collected by the DVLA. VED will be reduced and, consequently, the DfT has claimed that more than 90% of HGVs will not see costs rise.
In practice it should work a little like this: Operators of UK registered HGVs will be required to pay the Levy at the vehicle’s next licence renewal after 1 April. So an HGV that was relicensed for 12 months in January 2014, will continue with its current tax disc until January 2015. The Levy will be paid at the same time as VED and in one transaction, thereby avoiding any additional administration costs. As with VED, the levy can be paid annually or six monthly. DVLA will calculate the combined vehicle and levy payment and this will be shown on the vehicle licence renewal form (from April 2014 renewals onwards). The tax disc will display the total duty paid (combined vehicle tax and Levy including any relevant Reduced Pollution Grant) The HGV levy only applies to vehicles on the HGV tax class (01, 02, 45 & 46), combined transport tax class (23 & 53), and special types tax class (57 & 58).
The DfT has also brought VED weight bands in line with the EU. The change means that a vehicle with a particular plated weight will be able to be loaded up to, but not including, that weight.
How does it work for foreign-registered trucks?
Vehicles registered abroad must make levy payments before entering the UK. The levy can be paid by day, week, month or year. Online payment of the levy for operators completing journeys on UK roads is available and offers a pay-and-go purchasing option. Pay-and-go purchasing can be completed by telephone and at some point-of-sale terminals on ferries and truckstops. The foreign operator payment system is operated by Northgate Public Services.
How much will foreign-registered trucks contribute?
EU law dictates a maximum charge of £1,000 per year or £10 a day. However, that’s what the most common visitor to these shores – a 40-tonne, 5-axle artic – can expect to pay.
How will it be monitored?
There will be no physical sign of payment (ie a paper disc, sticker or similar item). Payment will be recorded in a database using the vehicle registration as the unique identifier. The payment database will enable authorities to identify and take necessary action where the levy has not been paid.
How will it be enforced?
Failure to pay the levy will be a criminal offence, attracting a £300 fixed penalty notice – or in the case of foreign-registered HGVs, a deposit taken at the roadside to the same value. The levy will be primarily enforced by DVSA (previously Vosa and the DSA) in England, Scotland and Wales, with Driver and Vehicle Agency (DVA) enforcing it in Northern Ireland. The police also have enforcement powers. The maximum fine for non-payment is £5,000.
What will raised funds be used for?
Although the levy is intended to raise revenue from foreign-registered trucks using UK roads, the government has conceded that the £20m it is expected to raise will not be ring-fenced.
It means the government will be free to reallocate revenue from the tax as it sees fit, as it does with fuel duty.