The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) have written to the Mayor of London, prior to the end of the Ultra-Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) Consultation, urging Sadiq Khan to rethink the proposal as it will negatively affect too many small and vulnerable businesses.
After the long-running soap opera of Government-TfL week to month bail-outs, FSB London Chair Rowena Howie states in the letter that “FSB lack any confidence that an all-encompassing vehicle scrappage scheme to help small businesses will materialise.”
The survey was completed by just under 600 businesses, 77% of those within London and 84% of businesses responding to the survey oppose the proposal to expand the ULEZ.
Majority of responses from small businesses with 1-5 employees with 80% of respondents reliant on business based vehicles.
30% of them agreed to an Emission-based road pricing system as opposed to the current Congestion Charge, Low Emission Zone (LEZ) and ULEZ.
Of those businesses whose vehicle(s) do not comply, 25% intend to pass charges onto customers, which will create further inflationary pressures; and 18 per cent said they would close their business.
Some 19% of small businesses were unaware of the proposed ULEZ expansion in 2023.
Many small businesses will have to start making difficult decisions on whether they continue to serve central, inner, and outer London.
The FSB London are calling for time to comply by having a similar lead in period to previous Zone extensions. During a cost of doing business crisis, we need London businesses to thrive and with a heavy reliance on service-related businesses, we feel that implementing a ‘no charge’ period until at least 29 August 2024 is a sensible measure.
An all-encompassing Vehicle Scrappage scheme for small businesses which can be supported by Government, Mayor of London and financial institutions providing low-cost finance.
A project bank account for any small business paying the charge from August 2023 to August 2025. The funds would be protected in a TfL ULEZ Bank Account, and a business would be able to use the funds towards purchasing a new or second hand-vehicle – subject to an upper limit.
If the fund is unspent then the money will go to TfL.
Rowena Howie, FSB London Policy Chair said, “The expansion of ULEZ will negatively impact thousands of small businesses through a myriad of issues including but not limited to customers choosing not to travel, businesses not being able to provide services in London and employees experiencing increased costs.
“To put these additional pressures on small businesses at a time when business has been adversely impacted by COVID-19 restrictions, where uncertainty and planning and reliance on supply chains has been further interrupted by new international trade agreements and where the energy crisis has further pushed up the cost of doing business, will be too much for some businesses to bear.
“FSB recognises the climate emergency and the commitment to move to net zero – but the Mayor must support the small business community through a ‘carrot’ and education approach to make greener decisions, discouraging non-essential business private vehicle journeys, and not to punish essential business journeys at this time of economic crisis.
“We need the Mayor to ensure policy promotes a small business friendly Greater London”.