Benefits in kind: diesel cars

Part of Finance (No. 2) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 10:30 am ar 9 Ionawr 2018.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Mel Stride Mel Stride Financial Secretary to the Treasury and Paymaster General 10:30, 9 Ionawr 2018

Clause 9 provides for a 1 percentage point increase in the company car tax diesel supplement. This modest increase will help to fund the UK’s national air quality plan, and is designed to encourage manufacturers to bring forward next-generation clean diesels sooner. There have been significant improvements in air quality in recent years, with nitrogen oxide emissions falling 19% between 2010 and 2015. However, air pollution is still at harmful levels in many of our towns and cities, and road transport is responsible for 80% of nitrogen oxide emissions in roadside tests. Even new diesel vehicles are a significant source of emissions. A test on the 50 best-selling diesel cars in 2016 found that, on average, they emitted over six times more nitrogen dioxide in real-world driving than is permissible under current emissions standards.

Diesel company cars are already subject to an additional supplement, currently at 3%, in recognition of diesel engines producing harmful pollutants in addition to carbon dioxide, including nitrogen oxide, or NOx, gases. The measure increases the diesel supplement from 3% to 4% for all cars solely propelled by diesel for the tax year 2018-19, until a point at which they meet the real driving emissions step 2 standard, known as Euro 6d. RDE2 sets a standard for nitrogen oxide emissions in real-world driving situations, with an emission limit of 80mg of NOx per kilometre. The supplement will not affect diesel hybrids, petrol or ultra low emission vehicles, or drivers of heavy goods vehicles or vans. The measure also removes the diesel supplement altogether for cleaner diesel cars that are certified to the RDE2 standard.

A basic rate taxpayer with a VW Golf will pay an additional £54 in 2018-19 as a result of the change. Company car drivers typically travel more miles, and have therefore benefited greatly from successive fuel duty freezes since 2011; in the autumn Budget, the Chancellor announced the eighth successive fuel duty freeze, saving the average driver £160 a year compared with the pre-2010 escalator plans. The change will encourage manufacturers to bring forward next-generation clean diesel sooner, and will also strengthen the incentive to purchase cars with a lower number of harmful pollutants—for example, ultra low emission vehicles or zero-emissions vehicles.

The measure is designed to work over several years to encourage manufacturers to bring forward the development of cleaner vehicles, so we do not believe that a review after six months, as requested in new clause 5, which was tabled by Opposition Members, would be appropriate. Company car fleets are typically renewed every three years, so we will not see the full impact of any change that takes effect from April 2018 until three years later. We will of course continue to review the uptake of company diesel cars and developments with those vehicles as part of our wider strategy on improving air quality. On that basis, I do not believe that the new clause is necessary, and I ask hon. Members to consider withdrawing it.

Clause 9 makes a small change that will support the UK’s transition to less polluting cars, helping to make sure that our towns and cities are clean and healthy places in which to live. I commend it to the Committee.