HGV road user levy


With effect from the 1st of April 2014 all heavy goods vehicles over 12 tonnes gross plated weight must pay a new road user levy to use the public road network in the UK. The levy is time based and costs up to £1,000 or £10 a day.

The rationale

The levy has been brought into effect by the HGV Road User Levy Act 2013, which the Department for Transport explains is intended to ensure that HGVs over 12 tonnes contribute to the wear and tear of the country’s road network.

The levy is calculated according to the vehicle’s axle configuration, weight and the period of time it is on the road. It can be paid daily, weekly, monthly or annually, with discounts available over the longer term.

Foreign vehicles

Although the government line emphasises the contribution to be made by the owners of HGVs to wear and tear of the public highway, the underlying reason for introduction of the levy is to make foreign heavy goods vehicles also to make a contribution to the upkeep of the road network.

This is something which British HGVs in some other countries have to pay and is the first time such a levy has appeared in the UK.

That the emphasis is on raising money from foreign vehicles may be seen by the Department for Transport’s assertion that with the introduction of the levy there would be a corresponding decrease in the Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) for such vehicles. As a result, says the Department, for more than 90% of British registered HGVs over 12 tonnes there will be no effective increase in costs.

Currently, some 260,000 HGVs weighing more than 12 tonnes are registered in the UK (about 55% of all HGVs registered here). According to the Department for Transport, some 130,000 foreign registered HGVs over 12 tonnes enter the UK each year and these vehicles account for around 1.5 million trips.

Failure to pay the new levy may result in a fine of £300.

Reception

British operators already face the cost of licensing and the annual consultation with their HGV insurance broker. Surprisingly, therefore, the introduction of a further charge on using HGVs on British roads has been welcomed by the principal trade organisation, the Freight Transport Association. The favourable reception is largely because:

  • the Association has long pressed for measures that see foreign HGVs make at least some contribution for their use of the road network; and
  • the cost of the levy for British operators must be compensated fully by a corresponding reduction in VD.

According to the HGV Training Centre, approximately 72,000 vehicles are reported to have paid the levy during the first week of its introduction alone. This includes 56,000 lorries from 50 different countries. During the same period, some 150 penalty notices were issued, representing a government revenue of approximately £20,000 in fines.

Payment collection

Operators of the relevant UK registered vehicles may pay the new levy at the same time as paying the annual vehicle excise duty. Owners of foreign vehicles may make their payments online, by telephone or at point of sale outlets (such as petrol stations).