Plug-in vehicle spending questioned

 

The spending of £11 million on government schemes to encourage the use of plug-in vehicles has benefited only a “handful” of motorists, many of them affluent families using grants to help fund second cars, a parliamentary report said today.

The Department for Transport offers grants of up to £5,000 for the purchase of plug-in electric cars as part of its drive to reduce carbon emissions from traffic, and a network of more than 1,600 public charging points has been installed across the country to encourage drivers to switch.

But today's report from the House of Commons Transport Committee raised questions over whether the spending is a good use of public money.

And it accused the Government of sending out "mixed messages", after Chancellor George Osborne's March Budget changed tax incentives in a way which car manufacturers warned could hold back the market in green driving alternatives.

The Government has said it expects to see tens of thousands of plug-in vehicles on British roads by 2015, with independent forecasts suggesting the number could be in six figures by 2020.

The coalition agreement committed the Government to developing a national recharging network of public available charging points.

But today's report found that in the year following the introduction of the plug-in car grant in January 2011, just 1,052 eligible cars were registered, compared to 111 in 2010.

The report found little evidence that take-up of plug-in vehicles was linked to the location of the publicly-funded charging points. A national register of charging points had details of fewer than 500 of the 1,600 installed, said the committee.

Committee chair Louise Ellman said: "The Government must do more to show that its plug-in vehicle strategy is a good use of public money. 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.

"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 cross-party committee said it "regrets" Mr Osborne's decision to change the incentive framework for low-carbon vehicles without prior consultation in the Budget, warning: "Such unexpected changes to these incentives risk creating instability in the market for plug-in vehicles."

Transport minister Norman Baker said: "Electric vehicles are the arrowhead for a low-carbon revolution in motoring and as more models come to market we are beginning to see sales gather pace - claims for the plug-in car grant in 2012 already exceeding the total claims for 2011 by 50% and new models being added to the list of eligible vehicles.

"The robust procedures we have put in place will make sure that the scheme continues to deliver good value for taxpayers' money.

"It is categorically not the case that this grant is only for rich families wanting a second car - around 75% of purchases made under the plug-in car grants have been by businesses wanting to reduce the carbon emissions and running costs of their fleets rather than by individuals wanting a subsidised second car.

"The UK automotive sector is worth more than £10.4 billion to the economy and we make no apology for supporting the take-up of plug-in vehicles which supports the creation of hi-tech jobs here in the UK.

"We will respond in detail to the report's recommendations in due course."

The British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association (BVRLA) said it "fully endorses the committee's criticism of the way in which the Treasury changed the framework of financial incentives available for early plug-in vehicle adopters without any consultation".

John Lewis, chief executive of the BVRLA, said: "Nearly two years on from the launch of this policy, we have a huge underspend and just a trickle of plug-in vehicle sales.

"Companies and drivers still have a lot of uncertainty about this new technology and these cars aren't going to start selling in serious numbers until the Government undertakes a major review of its strategy and incentives."

PA

News
Russell Brand was in typically combative form during his promotional interview with Newsnight's Evan Davis
peopleReports that Brand could stand for Mayor on an 'anti-politics' ticket
News
The clocks go forward an hour at 1am on Sunday 30 March
news
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor finds himself in a forest version of London in Doctor Who episode 'In the Forest of the Night'
TVReview: Is the Doctor ever going stop frowning? Apparently not.
News
Voluminous silk drawers were worn by Queen Victoria
newsThe silk underwear is part of a growing trade in celebrity smalls
PROMOTED VIDEO
Sport
footballMatch report: Real fight back to ruin Argentinian's debut
News
Candidates with surnames that start with an A have an electoral advantage
newsVoters are biased towards names with letters near start of alphabet
Arts and Entertainment
Isis with Lord Grantham (Hugh Bonneville)
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Jay James
TVReview: Performances were stale and cheesier than a chunk of Blue Stilton left out for a month
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Maths Teacher

    £110 - £200 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Maths Teacher for spe...

    Business Analyst - Surrey - Permanent - Up to £50k DOE

    £40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

    ***ASP.NET Developer - Cheshire - £35k - Permanent***

    £30000 - £35000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

    ***Solutions Architect*** - Brighton - £40k - Permanent

    £35000 - £40000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

    Day In a Page

    Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

    Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

    Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
    Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

    Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

    The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
    New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

    New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

    Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
    Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

    Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

    The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
    DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

    Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

    Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
    The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

    Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

    The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
    Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

    Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

    The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
    11 best sonic skincare brushes

    11 best sonic skincare brushes

    Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
    Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

    Paul Scholes column

    I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
    Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

    Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

    While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
    Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

    Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

    Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
    How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

    A crime that reveals London's dark heart

    How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?