Boris Johnson’s levelling up agenda is in big trouble. Ministers plan to force consumers to subsidise the installation of charging stations for wealthy owners of electric vehicles by raising electricity bills.
In recent weeks, ministers and officials have announced that households will have to fund many of the Government’s costly Net Zero plans via their energy bills. Currently, consumers are funding renewable energy investors to the tune of £12 billion per year, money taken from energy bills. But on top of this huge and rising cost, the Government now plans to add a whole catalogue of additional Net Zero subsidies.
Companies building public charging points for electric car owners would no longer have to cover the costs of connecting them to the grid. Instead, ordinary families would have to fund this through their energy bills.
EVs, which are typically £10,000 more expensive than their petrol equivalents, are mostly bought by wealthy families as second or third cars, while electricity bills are paid by everyone.
While having to fund this Net Zero infrastructure, electric cars are far too expensive for millions of households and ordinary families.
A third of UK motorists cannot afford even the cheapest electric car, economists at the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) have warned. That means that 10 million households can’t afford switching their petrol and diesel cars for electric ones.
Last year, the transport department spent £61m in grants to wealthy buyers of Tesla cars after the company launched its £40,000 Model 3. Since 2011 the taxpayers have handed out £1.1bn to subsidise well-off buyers of green cars, paying buyers up to £2,500 of the purchase price of electric cars.
European car manufacturers have questioned whether they can produce electric cars without making them much more expensive than conventional cars.
There are a number of reasons why EVs will remain more expensive than petrol cars – batteries are very costly and need to be renewed, the time wasted at charging points, the need to find alternative transport when their range is inadequate. That’s only going to get worse as electricity prices soar in future.
The Global Warming Policy Forum has estimated that the Government’s Net Zero plan to decarbonise private transport could cost UK motorists up to £700 billion if they want to stay on the roads.
The working classes face the prospect of being driven off the roads.
This represents a major ethical problem for Boris Johnson’s levelling up agenda and his Conservative government:
Like so many aspects of the Net Zero project, subsidising EV charging points means the transfer of hundreds of millions of pounds from the poor to the rich.