Crushing blow for tax dodgers

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The Independent Online
TRANSPORT Minister Baroness Hayman unveiled a pyramid of 500 crushed cars today as a warning to road tax dodgers.

She launched a new Government crackdown on cheats - who are costing the Treasury pounds 175 million a year - and showed what could happen if people did not pay up.

"Road tax dodgers cost the public tens of millions of pounds every year. And all too often the vehicles are not insured or MoT tested either.

"I think a lot of people resent the fact that while 95 per cent pay there are 5 per cent who don't."

The Driving and Vehicle Licensing Agency's head officer Haydn Madoc explained: "First a car without a disc is clamped and if no one gets in touch after 24 hours it's taken away. Then if it's not claimed after five weeks we either sell it at auction if it's a good car or it's scrapped."

The DVLA's wheel-clamping scheme was launched only in London last August, but will go national this autumn.

Mr Madoc presented the Minister with a cheque for pounds 4.4 million which has been raised by convincing dodgers in London to get their discs.

Baroness Hayman told a news conference in front of the 30ft mountain of metal at a police vehicle pound in Vauxhall, south London: "More than the cars we've crushed, I'm most pleased with the money we've raised by convincing people to pay once we've caught them."

And she added: "I'm told that Post Offices in London ran out of road tax application forms in the two weeks after the scheme was launched there."

In the early phase of the plan more than 2,000 vehicles were wheel-clamped. And more than 40,000 evaders voluntarily re-licensed their vehicles.

The latest scheme costs pounds 5 million and Mr Madoc said they hoped to multiply the pounds 4.4 million clawed back so far by at least four or five times. Tax disc offenders have to pay pounds 68 to get their vehicles de-clamped or at least pounds 135 to get them out of the pound. They also face storage fees of pounds 12 a day.

Cheats also face prosecution of up to pounds 1,000 for a car or motorcycle and up to pounds 25,000 for a heavy goods vehicle.