New measures will cut cost of motoring, say ministers


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The Independent Online

A freeze in charges for MOT tests and a scheme to cut inflated petrol prices along motorways are being announced today in moves to cut the cost of motoring. Chris Grayling, the Justice Secretary, will also set out plans to weed out bogus whiplash compensation claims after accidents – an initiative he says will result in lower insurance premiums for drivers.

The maximum price an MOT test centre can charge for inspecting a car is to be frozen at £54.85 until 2015. Ministers said they had ruled out raising the fee by £4. On motorways, road signs will be mounted along motorways to enable motorists to compare charges and head for the pumps with the cheapest fuel.

The move, to be piloted next year, comes after the Office of Fair Trading found unleaded petrol was typically 7.5p a litre more expensive on motorway forecourts. The moves are the Government’s latest response to protests that Britain’s “squeezed middle” is not feeling the benefit of the slow economic recovery.

Robert Goodwill, the Roads Minister, also said driving test fees – currently £31 for the theory test, £62 for the practical test and £50 for a provisional licence – are to be reviewed.

“The costs of owning and running a car are felt by millions of households and businesses across the nation. The Government is determined to help keep those costs down,” Mr Goodwill said. The move to tackle fraudulent whiplash claims will be launched next year. Claimants will be examined by new independent medical panels, replacing the current system of assessments by GPs or doctors employed by insurance companies.

Mr Grayling said: “It’s not right that people who cheat the insurance system get away with it while forcing up the price for everyone else, so we are now going after whiplash fraudsters and will keep on driving premiums down.”

Meanwhile, a report published by the Commons Transport Select Committee today calls for local authorities to publish annual reports to show how much revenue they raise from parking – and how the cash is used. Louise Ellman, the committee’s chairwoman, said: “Parking enforcement is necessary for managing demand on the roads. However, the use of parking charges and fines specifically to raise revenue by local authorities is neither acceptable nor legal. Yet there is a deep-rooted public perception that parking enforcement is used as a cash cow, so it’s essential local authorities apply stringent transparency.”

The committee said the Government should urge councils to implement a five minute “grace period” before traffic wardens issue penalty notices to motorists who exceed the time for which they have paid.