For the benefit of Members of the House, I am pleased to announce that from 00:00 this morning, all HGVs at or above 12 tonnes using UK roads have been required to pay a new time-based road user charge, the HGV road user levy. The introduction of the levy is a coalition Government commitment, and following the introduction of the HGV Road User Levy Bill in October 2012, has been delivered nearly a year ahead of schedule.
The introduction of such a measure in the UK has been called for over many years by our domestic haulage industry. The levy must be paid by foreign-registered and UK-registered HGVs alike, and creates a fairer system by removing some of the inequality UK hauliers feel when paying to use many roads abroad. The introduction of the levy ensures all HGVs make a contribution to the costs of UK road maintenance, irrespective of their country of origin.
The levy is structured in a series of bands to reflect vehicle type, maximum weight and axle configuration, with heavier, more road wearing HGVs paying the most. For a given vehicle type, the annual rates of levy and six-month rate of levy are the same for foreign and UK-registered HGVs.
The vast majority of UK hauliers will notice no difference. For over nine out of 10 UK-registered HGVs, the cost of the levy will be fully offset by reductions in vehicle excise duty (VED). The levy will be paid alongside VED in a single transaction so that unnecessary administration costs are not incurred.
Foreign HGVs must pay the levy before they use UK roads and can purchase for between a day and a year, with discounts available for longer periods. The introduction of the levy is one of a number of initiatives designed to help the haulage industry. We have introduced a trial of longer semi-trailers. We are spending £6 billion on maintaining motorway and trunk roads between 2015-16 and 2020-21 and providing over 500 miles of additional lane capacity to the strategic road network.
Duty on standard diesel is now lower than it was in October 2010. VED on HGVs has remained frozen during this Parliament and we have announced a decade’s worth of lower levels of duty for methane gas fuelled HGVs. The introduction of the levy is expected to bring in circa £20 million in taxation revenue and could lead to economic benefits through international haulage market share increases.
For ease of use, foreign operators making regular visits to the UK have been encouraged to pay online using registered accounts on gov.uk. Infrequent visitors to the UK can chose to “pay and go” and can make purchases online, at some point of sale facilities or by phone.
Non-payment of the levy is a criminal offence. The offence will generally be dealt with at the roadside via a fixed penalty notice of £300. On summary conviction a fine of up to level 5 on the standard scale—currently £5,000—will be payable for non-compliance. The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) are leading on levy enforcement in Great Britain, and the Driver and Vehicle Agency (DVA) in Northern Ireland. Both agencies intend to enforce the levy through a combination of additional targeted stops and as part of existing road safety related stops. The police also have enforcement powers.