This was their response
Responding to the mayor’s announcement today that the Ultra-Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) will be brought forward, the FSB argue that whilst tackling emissions is the right priority for the mayor, we are opposed to the date change to 2019 as this does not allow sufficient time for businesses to make changes to their fleets without significant cost hardship.
The FSB members tell say that the second-hand market for compliant commercial vehicles will not be sufficiently mature, specialised vehicles will be even harder to obtain, the value of existing vehicle assets will drop and the price of the newer vehicles will be at a premium for small businesses because of the smaller scale of their purchases.
FSB research indicates that over two thirds (67 per cent) of their members operate up to 3 vehicles and over half (54 per cent) expect these vehicles to be non-compliant within central London in 2019.
Many small businesses owners who have tried to do the right thing and arranged vehicle leases and finance schemes to enable them to upgrade their vehicles in 2020, when the ULEZ scheme was originally intended to begin, now find the goal posts have moved leaving them with few, if any, options to mitigate these additional charges.
The FSB have supported mayor Khan’s proposals for a diesel vehicle scrappage scheme to help small businesses, although no actual support for small businesses has yet been forthcoming. Therefore, the FSB now call on the Chancellor to put in place practical support for small businesses across the country to help them upgrade to cleaner, less polluting vehicles. The issue of air quality is not just a London problem, but London small businesses are being asked to bear proportionally higher costs to tackle the issue.
The FSB is calling on the mayor, with Government support, to offer a mitigation package for small firms, in the shape of:
- Support for small and micro businesses to help them make the change using discounts, sunset clauses and grace periods.
- Government and Mayoral support for small and micro businesses in the form of a scrappage scheme.
- The ULEZ implementation across London for heavy vehicles to be set at a 2023 date to allow businesses based in locations not currently covered by the Congestion Charge the time required to acquire costly vehicle assets.
- A full cost-benefit analysis by TfL on a new demand-managed system that would remove the need for an ever-swelling charging base in the capital from Congestion Charging, LEZ, ULEZ, T-charge and bridge charging.
Sue Terpilowski OBE, London Policy Chair of the FSB, said: “The FSB supports the principle of improving air quality and removing from the roads those vehicles that contribute disproportionately to air pollution.”
“No responsible business organisation can condone the use of excessively polluting engines. However, we are concerned about the need to ensure that any improvements in air quality are not achieved at a disproportionately high cost to business – with damaging consequences for jobs, business viability and the economy as a whole.”
“Micro and small businesses face disproportionately higher costs than medium and large-sized ones in carrying out business activities.”
“We do not want to see tradesmen, coach companies, construction business owners or market traders refusing to serve London, which is why transport policy in London needs to recognise the difference between essential and non-essential journeys.”