At Comfort Insurance we often discuss how the motorhome and motorhome industry have rapidly changed over the past few years due to the introduction of new technology. Now, the government has also decided to change with the times, with George Osborne announcing earlier this month that traditional paper tax discs will soon be abolished.
As of next October motorhome owners will no longer have to display a paper tax disc in their vehicles as the government will use electronic databases to keep track of which vehicles are taxed. This is not exactly something new, as in the past few years the government has been relying more heavily on electronic databases to check whether vehicles are taxed or insured, leading to visual checks by the police and DVLA dropping by seventy five per cent since 2008.
Once the tax disc is no longer used the government claims drivers will save around twenty million pounds per year and businesses will save seven million pounds in administration costs. Furthermore, motorhome owners who choose to tax their vehicles for six months instead of twelve will only have to pay a five per cent charge instead of the current ten per cent, and there is even talk of owners being able to pay tax on a monthly basis via Direct Debit.
Discussing the plans, a spokesman from the Treasury said: “This is a visual symbol of how we are moving Government into the modern age and making dealing with Government more hassle-free. These changes mean it will be easier to tax your car, and cheaper than before to do it by instalment.” The government has also claimed that the savings made by using electronic databases will be passed on to motorists, which will be much welcomed as over the past few years the government has been criticised numerous times over the expense associated with running a vehicle.
There are some concerns over the change however, especially as it means information concerning each vehicle’s tax will only be seen by the government and not the public. Presenter of BBC Radio 4’s Money Box Paul Lewis noted that this could cause issues for the second-hand vehicle market, as buyers would find it difficult to gain information on how long a vehicle is taxed for or the annual tax cost.
The Telegraph’s Steve Hawkes also has his concerns over the new plans, as he claims they will encroach on people’s privacy. He argues that with the DVLA and police no longer performing visual checks the government will have to rely on CCTV cameras to check whether vehicles are taxed or insured, thus leading to more cameras being installed around the UK. Hawkes is also concerned that by using electronic databases there will be “more personal data lodged and presumably sold on.”
For motorhome owners the change to road tax payments comes with both pros and cons, as the modernisation of the system could lead to some issues. For example, as motorhome owners often store their vehicles away during the winter they could forget that they need to go online and renew their road tax if it runs out while in storage. Unfortunately, this could lead to many motorhome owners having a nasty surprise when they take their vehicles out of storage.
Others may find the new system difficult to get to grips with, especially as the current one has been in place for ninety three years. Not having a paper tax disc in your motorhome means you’ll be unable to personally prove that your vehicle is properly taxed, and it’s still not been explained what would happen should the government or DVLA’s databases lose certain information or erroneously accuse someone of not paying their tax.
As Paul Lewis pointed out, lack of tax discs can also have a negative impact on the second-hand motorhome industry, as it means potential buyers will have to go through more red tape in order to get the information they need. On the plus side, motorhome owners could save a substantial amount of money in road tax each year, which could go towards paying off their motorhome insurance, general maintenance or even fuel.