The number of drivers who are flouting the law and driving without valid road tax has doubled since the scrapping of the paper tax disc, costing the government millions of pounds, the Department for Transport (DfT) has confirmed.
In October of last year, the government scrapped the paper tax disc, which had been in place for 93 years prior, as there was a move towards a computer-based system that automatically tracked who had bought road tax.
However, in the year since this change was brought about, the DfT said road tax evasion has more than doubled. It said that nationwide, some 560,000 drivers are now hitting the road without valid tax. This is a sizeable increase from the 210,000 that was recorded in 2013 when the paper disc was still in place.
Overall, the DfT said, some 1.4 per cent of drivers on the road are now using untaxed vehicles, compared to the 0.6 per cent who did so in 2013. And this is hitting the public purse, with the government losing out on £45 million per year in lost revenue as a result of people neglecting to pay.
It is also a particularly negative reflection of the new electronic system, which was predicted to be far better at telling who was driving without tax. While in the past police would need to physically see someone on the road with an out of date or non-existent disc, under the new laws, it was said that automatic number plate recognition would alert them to tax evasion.
RAC chief engineer David Bizley said: "These are very worrying and disappointing statistics indeed.
"Sadly, the concerns we raised about the number of car tax evaders going up at the time the tax disc was confined to history have become a reality."
He went on to say that a large proportion of those not paying could simply be accounted for by not being used to the new system, stressing that the RAC hopes to see the figure fall as people become more accustomed to the new way of buying road tax.
Posted by Danielle Barge