Number of untaxed vehicles on region’s roads highest in a decade

Traffic on the A47 near Norwich.

Traffic on the A47 near Norwich. - Credit: National Highways

Thousands more unlicensed vehicles are being driven on the region’s roads compared with two years ago, official figures show.

Statistics published by the Department for Transport shows an estimated 62,978 vehicles are being used in the East of England despite their vehicle excise duty (VED) not being paid.

It is the highest number for more than a decade and represents 1.8pc of vehicles, up from 1.6pc in 2019 when the total was less than 60,000.

The DVLA is reporting a £93m loss in revenue after the paper tax disc was abolished.

Paper tax discs were abolished in 2014. - Credit: PA

Motorcycles were excluded from the most recent research.

Some 45pc of vehicles being used without VED have been untaxed for more than two months, suggesting there is a persistent minority of motorists who are intentionally not taxing their vehicles.

Lost revenue from non-payment of VED has soared since the abolition of the paper tax disc in October 2014.

People not using their vehicles for long periods during the pandemic lockdowns may also be a factor in rising rates of drivers being untaxed.

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Nationally there are an estimated 719,000 untaxed vehicles, up 85,000 from two years ago.

Police car by road

Police carry out regular vehicle checks including those that are uninsured and without tax. - Credit: Norfolk Constabulary

AA head of roads policy Jack Cousens said: “High inflation, particularly with pump prices that refuse to drop despite big falls in the wholesale cost, always pressure many low-income drivers to run the gauntlet and not pay their tax.

“It is foolish for them to chance their arms because the penalties are severe, even potentially having the car crushed.”

Every vehicle registered in the UK must be taxed if it is driven or parked on a public road. The amount varies based on a vehicle’s CO2 emissions.

Failing to pay typically leads to an £80 fine, although if a case goes to court the maximum penalty is £1,000.

DVLA chief executive Julie Lennard

DVLA chief executive Julie Lennard. - Credit: DVLA

DVLA chief executive Julie Lennard said: “We work hard to drive down vehicle tax evasion and the vast majority of motorists are doing the right thing with over 98pc of vehicles on the road taxed correctly.

“Estimated evasion rates fluctuate and the pandemic is highly likely to have impacted some motorists’ behaviours. Those who choose to evade will be tackled using our proven package of comprehensive enforcement measures.

“These include penalties and court prosecutions through to the use of automatic number plate recognition cameras, wheel clamping and the removal of untaxed vehicles.”

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