Newly published figures reveal the number of untaxed vehicles is on the rise.

Some 1.9% of vehicles (up from 1.6% in 2019) were found to be unlicensed in the past year. The figure is equivalent to 719,000 untaxed vehicles representing a potential £119 million loss in revenue.

Pandemic woes

The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) said that they cannot provide and accurate total. Estimated losses in Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) could be as high as £119 million, though this may reduce with late payments and SORN notifications.

However, despite the ‘concerning’ trend, the DVLA sats ‘the vast majority of motorists are doing the right thing’. Figures show that 98% are correctly taxed, raising around £7bn every year.

These are the first estimates for untaxed vehicles since early 2020, but may be impacted by the pandemic.

Possible reasons for the latest trend include the:

  • decision to limit enforcement activity at the height of the pandemic
  • economic recession affecting vehicle owners’ ability to afford VED
  • SORN declared vehicles returning to the road near the beginning of the pandemic

Reduced pandemic traffic levels may have skewed results, with the survey taking place in June and early July 2021.

Online and on the road

The DVLA’s online vehicle taxing service has worked as normal throughout the pandemic, with 98% of all vehicles taxed this way.

Julie Lennard, DVLA Chief Executive said: “We work hard to drive down vehicle tax evasion”.

“Estimated evasion rates fluctuate, and the pandemic is highly likely to have impacted some motorists’ behaviours. Those who choose to evade will be tackled using our proven package of comprehensive enforcement measures.

“These include penalties and court prosecutions through to the use of Automatic Number Plate Recognition cameras, wheelclamping and the removal of untaxed vehicles.

Greater enforcement needed

RAC’s head of roads policy, Nicholas Lyes says that “it’s hugely concerning”. He questions whether the abolition of the paper tax disc back in 2014 has some responsibility for the ‘significant’ increase, with “two in every 100 vehicles on the road” untaxed .

“We urge the DVLA to step up enforcement and to do all it can to bring evasion down, as it is clearly not fair on those who do pay their fair share to drive on the road.”