Electric Vehicle Charging point in the street

VAT policy on public electric car charging is ‘unfair’, says campaign group

Image credit: Peter De Kievith/Dreamstime

The Treasury has been urged to stop making electric vehicle (EV) drivers who cannot charge at home pay four times more tax on electricity from public chargepoints.

Currently, VAT on domestic electricity is 5 per cent, whereas motorists using on-street chargers must pay 20 per cent.

But new campaign group FairCharge – which aims to remove barriers to the transition to electric cars – described the policy as “unfair”.

The group is being led by automotive journalist and former 'Top Gear' presenter Quentin Wilson, who co-founded fuel price lobby group FairFuelUK in 2010.

He said owning an EV must be “affordable and practical for hard-pressed families and businesses”, but some government decisions “have done nothing to help expand EV use beyond the wealthy”.

Wilson added if the UK were to increase EV uptake, then we would need to have far-sighted fair government policies that make EVs appealing to everyone.

Not only is the policy unfair for those who cannot charge from their home, he continued, but it is all a “policy mistake” that will hinder EV take-up and impact on exactly those who we want to see and enjoy the benefits of an EV.

FairCharge is also calling for other measures to boost the switch to electric motoring, such as high-speed public chargepoints across the UK, low-cost funding options for new and used EVs, and educating consumers to dispel “myths” around EVs and promote new incentives for adopting the vehicles.

Over 74,000 people have signed an online petition by FairCharge urging Chancellor Rishi Sunak and transport secretary Grant Shapps to “make electric vehicles fairer and more affordable before it’s too late”.

A Treasury spokesperson said: “The UK is leading the way on the transition to net-zero – and has reduced emissions faster than any other country in the G20 and continues to have the most ambitious climate targets for 2030.

“To drive the UK’s move to EVs, we have provided over £2.5bn to cut down purchase costs for drivers and to build the infrastructure to support their usage, such as local on-street residential charging and targeted plug-in vehicle grants.”

Figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders show plug-in vehicles accounted for over one in six new cars registered in the UK last year.

The RAC, which is supporting FairCharge, said a survey it commissioned last year found that 38 per cent of drivers could not charge an EV at home.

The survey also suggested 63 per cent of motorists do not think there are enough public chargepoints, while 57 per cent who are not likely to opt for an electric car say it is because they cost more than similar petrol and diesel models.

“The UK’s journey to zero-emission driving is now well underway, but it’s vital that the switch to electric happens quickly and efficiently,” said Sarah Winward-Kotecha, director of EVs at RAC.

“There are many issues with public chargers such as cost, availability, reliability, speed of charging and ease of payment, which have the potential to either speed up or slow down EV adoption depending on how they are handled.”

Winward-Kotecha explained that the service company’s decision to support FairChange is all about making sure that charging provision in all shapes and forms is both fit for purpose and fair.

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