Drivers want paper tax discs back after clamping increase

Calls are being made for the return of the tax disc, after The Times obtained information showing that the number of vehicles clamped because of non-payment has more than doubled since it was abolished.

Figures obtained by the newspaper under a Freedom of Information request have revealed that the number of vehicles clamped or impounded due to non-payment of road tax increased to as many as 12,200 per month last summer.
This is a dramatic increase on the number of clampings seen prior to the change two years ago, when the average was 5,530 cars a month, and there are fears of a deficit in the government's finances.

When the new system was introduced, it was said it would save £14m a year. However, this appears to be far from the case, and a recent poll of drivers found that three-quarters wanted the tax disc back.

In the year before the reform the government pocketed just short of £510m a month in vehicle excise duty. However, in the six months after the disc was scrapped in October 2015 this figure fell to £484.6m a month, falling to less than £476million later that year.

In total, vehicle excise tax collected by the DVLA fell from £6.118bn in the 12 months prior to the tax's disc abolition to £5.706bn the year afterwards, revealed the Times.

Despite this significant decrease, the DVLA claimed that the losses from the change were not as severe as figures suggested. With the introduction of monthly direct debits, payments became more spread out than before, thus making it impossible to compare annual totals, it claimed.

The DVLA produced figures to show that after the first year of the new system, the sum made from vehicle excise duty fell by £93million – only 1.5 per cent of its total revenue.

Alongside this information, the Times revealed that the DVLA has handed a two-year contract extension to NSL services, the private company that goes after drivers without road tax, and is paid per clamping or removal.

This revelation prompted many to hail the new system as failing, due to the high number of drivers being punished for making a genuine error.

While the AA called for second reminders to be issued to drivers before their vehicles are clamped, the DVLA defended its tough stance.

A spokeswoman said: "While DVLA does send reminders and last chance notices, action will be taken against those who don't tax their vehicles."
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