At the beginning of this month new legislation came into place which means that from now on all foreign Heavy Goods Vehicles (HGVs) must pay to use the UK’s roads. The government has implemented what is called the ‘HGV Road User Levy’ in order to maintain the UK’s roads which are regularly subjected to wear and tear by foreign HGVs. Many other countries already charge foreign HGVs for driving on their roads, which means the new levy is levelling the playing field for the UK.
Going forward, there will be two ways which foreign HGV drivers can pay to drive on the UK’s roads; the first being an annual fee which will benefit those who make frequent trips to the UK, while those that are only visiting the UK once or twice each year will be able to use a ‘pay as you go’ system. Either way, drivers will have to pay the levy online or at designated truck stops outside the UK as well as provide details of their HGVs. Information solutions specialist Northgate is helping with these processes by setting up a multi-lingual customer service centre that will be able to take payments over the phone and answer queries from drivers.
Dave Meaden, Chief Executive Officer of Northgate Public Services, said: “The Department for Transport and Northgate Public Services have worked constructively together to deliver this innovative scheme to the April 2014 deadline, 12 months earlier than originally envisaged. We have a solid and successful track record in creating systems that are focused on enabling the public and creating more effective and efficient government services. Examples include the Blue Badge Service and our council tax collection system, which recovers over £16 billion per year. We are delighted today to launch the HGV Levy Payment Service.”
A number of organisations have already publicised their support of the new levy, with Karen Dee, Director of Policy at the Freight Transport Association (FTA), saying: “The FTA has consistently supported the introduction of the HGV Road User Levy. Until now operators of foreign HGVs have paid nothing in UK taxes. They pay vehicle tax in their own country, and buy low-taxed diesel before entering the UK, and in so doing save up to £200 on a full tank of fuel. The levy won’t fully redress this imbalance in costs, but it does create a fairer arrangement for UK operators.
“Road charges and tolls are part and parcel of operating a truck on the continent. It is only right that foreign HGVs using UK roads should do the same. The FTA believes that the benefits of the HGV levy for UK operators will go beyond the charge that foreign carriers must pay. The associated extension and upgrading of the DVSA and DVA roadside enforcement cameras network offers the potential for more effective enforcement of foreign HGV safety standards.”
The Road Haulage Association’s (RHA) Director of Policy Jack Semple also said that the group supported the scheme, and added: “The levy means that visiting hauliers are legally required to contribute to the cost of our roads for the first time. It also does what is possible, within EU law, to level the playing field between UK hauliers and those from the continent and Ireland. Philip Hammond, when he was transport secretary, committed the Coalition to bringing the scheme in during this Parliament and we are pleased that Patrick McLoughlin is bringing in the measure so promptly, a year ahead of deadline.
“Visiting hauliers [now] have to pay and the DVSA (formerly VOSA) is geared up for immediate enforcement. It is business as usual for the UK industry – British truck operators will pay the levy at the same time as vehicle excise duty. The DfT and the Treasury have worked to ensure that the scheme keeps the impact on the UK industry to an absolute minimum and have engaged constructively with the RHA in achieving that.”
The ultimate goal of the HGV Road User Levy is to boost the UK haulage industry, as before April 1st UK companies which used HGVs would have to pay more than foreign companies. An increase in business for UK firms would mean that it would be easier for them to cover the costs of commercial van insurance as well as high fuel prices, especially as Vehicle Excise Duty rates have been reduced recently so that ninety percent of hauliers will not see costs rise as a result of the levy.