What do the Conservative, Labour and Lib Dem manifestos mean for drivers?

What do the Conservative, Labour and Lib Dem manifestos mean for drivers?
With the 2024 General Election less than a month away, the three major political parties have released their manifestos.

The motoring industry is a key topic for the Conservative, Labour, and Liberal Democrat parties.

Here, the RAC looks at what each of the manifestos could mean for drivers in Britian.   

Conservative

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has outlined the Tory party’s plans for the upcoming election, where he has documented a number of pledges that will impact drivers.

They plan to reverse the recent London Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ), impose restrictions on 20mph speed limits and Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs).

The party has also confirmed that they will remain against a pay-per-mile road tax model.

When it comes to the pothole problem in the UK, the manifesto outlined that spending that would have been used for HS2 will go towards tackling the issue.

The Conservatives are also reconfirming their commitment to Pumpwatch – a national scheme that will provide drivers with live fuel pricing.

Following the launch of the Conservatives’ manifesto, RAC head of policy Simon Williams said: “While it’s positive that the Tories have pledged to roll out the Pumpwatch scheme and launch a National Parking Platform, it’s disappointing that there is no mention of road casualty reduction targets or a commitment to give councils long-term certainty of funding for local roads. 

“We continue to believe the road casualty reduction targets – which were abandoned 14 years ago – should be reinstated, especially as pedestrian fatalities hit their highest rate since the pandemic this year.

“Although the previously announced £8.3bn of reallocated HS2 funding for resurfacing 5,000 miles of local roads is welcome, it’s important to realise this only represents 3% of all council-run roads in England. Spread over an 11-year timeframe, that funding sadly doesn’t scratch the surface of country’s pothole problem. We would have liked to see a commitment to ringfencing some general taxation to pay for local road maintenance, which would give councils the ability to plan long-term programmes to bring their roads back up to a fit-for-purpose state. 

“We were also surprised that pay-per-mile road pricing would be ruled out so definitively. With fuel duty revenue already declining and set to fall even further as more electric vehicles come on to the road, a replacement form of taxation will have to be introduced to avoid losing billions. Any further drop in tax revenue could ultimately result in our local roads crumbling into an even worse condition.

“It is, however, good news to see a pledge to get the Pumpwatch fuel price transparency scheme, which received Royal Assent shortly before the election was called, up and running. This, alongside an official price monitoring body, will hopefully give drivers fairer deals on the UK’s 8,300-plus forecourts.”

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Labour

Labour leader Kier Starmer has pledged to reinstate the petrol and diesel ban to 2030 should he be elected.

The aim is to provide clarity to the industry as well as tackling climate targets. It would reverse the Conservative delay to the ban to 2035.

They have also confirmed that they would support the transition to electric vehicles (EVs) by accelerating the rollout of new chargepoints across Britain.

Following the launch of the Labour manifesto, RAC head of policy Simon Williams said: “It’s pleasing to see major concerns for drivers, such as local road maintenance and the transition to electric vehicles, high on the list of Labour’s priorities if they win power. However, there is an important issue which is notably absent.

“The previous Government promised £8.3bn of reallocated HS2 funding to resurface 5,000 miles of local roads. With no mention of reinstating HS2, it’s not apparent whether Labour would honour this spending commitment to tackle the nation’s pothole problem. If that proportion of budget – which would only resurface 3% of all council-run roads in England – is no longer dedicated to road maintenance, the proposed £320m from the A27 bypass would not even be a drop in the ocean.

 “The promise to restore 2030 as the phase-out deadline for new petrol and diesel vehicles comes as no surprise. Arguably it’s the Zero Emission Vehicle Mandate that’s already in place which is more important, as it’s forcing manufacturers to sell an increasing proportion of electric vehicles over the next few years and should, in itself, help drive uptake. 

“However, it remains the case that electric vehicles are still far too expensive for a majority of drivers. The next Government has a great opportunity to stimulate demand by reintroducing a plug-in car grant aimed at the cheaper end of the market. This would make zero-emission driving a possibility for far more people.”

Liberal Democrat

Lib Dem leader Ed Davey’s ‘For a fair deal’ manifesto outlined several key policies for drivers.

Like Labour, they focused on increasing the transition to electric through more charge points – both for on-street parking and at petrol stations.

Furthermore, they want to cut VAT on public charging to 5%.

Should Davey get elected, they will launch an investigation into rising fuel prices and reinstate the 2030 ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars.

Following the launch of the Liberal Democrats’ political manifesto this morning, RAC head of policy Simon Williams said: “We welcome promises of more money for local road maintenance, ensuring fuel prices are fair and additional support for the transition to electric vehicles, but without clear spending allocations it’s impossible to know just how much of this would actually result in any meaningful improvements for drivers. 

“More than half (55%) of drivers tell us the high upfront cost of an electric vehicle is what prevents them from opting for one in the first place. A pledge to reinstate the plug-in car grant is very positive, as is a commitment to install more chargers on residential streets and more ultra-fast chargers at service stations.

“The promise to end the VAT charging disparity is particularly welcome, as currently those charging at home pay just 5% in stark contrast to those using public chargers who are hit with a 20% rate. This is something we, along with the FairCharge campaign, have long been calling for as it creates an unnecessary barrier to switching to an EV for those who can’t charge at home.  

“We hope the reference to ‘more of the roads budget to local councils to maintain existing roads’ equates to proper long-term funding, which is what authorities so desperately need to bring our local roads back up to a fit-for-purpose state. Without this, we fear the amount of council road maintenance will continue to decline from its current five-year-low. We badly need to see more preventative maintenance that extends the lives of roads and more resurfacing to tackle the worst affected routes rather than just patching potholes and hoping for the best.”

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