The scrap vehicle incentive program, known as the Ulez scheme, is causing financial strain for low-income families.
According to applicants, a program initiated by Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, to eliminate polluting vehicles is causing financial strain for low-income families as they wait for their payments to be approved.
Vehicles that are not up to emissions standards and are driven within London’s ultra-low emissions zone (Ulez) will face a daily fee of £12.50.
The scrappage scheme, worth £160m, provides £2,000 payments to eligible owners who choose to replace their non-compliant cars in order to avoid the charge. It was made available to all qualifying owners in August, just before the Ulez was expanded. However, many applicants have reported experiencing administrative issues that have resulted in them being charged high fees on a daily basis.
Individuals who have reached out to the Guardian have experienced numerous denials for unjustified causes, resulting in them having to wait several weeks for the grant.
Susan, whose full name is not disclosed, had to wait for eight weeks for a decision that was supposed to be made within 10 working days. This delay was caused by Capita, the company in charge of managing the scheme for Transport for London (TfL), mishandling her application.
One week after submitting her claim, she received an email granting approval. However, on the same day, she also received a second email informing her that her application had been denied and requesting that she resubmit two pages from her logbook.
She stated that two weeks later, we were sent another email approving our request and reminding us to provide proof of scrapping the car before the end of the month.
As a result, we brought the vehicle to a sanctioned junkyard and submitted the destruction certificate on the TfL website. However, after a week, we received an email denying our initial request and requesting the same two pages that we had already sent twice.
She followed through, but was informed that her application had lapsed due to being “incomplete”. “The letter of refusal encouraged us to reapply, but we were unable to do so since the car had already been scrapped,” she explained.
The pair ultimately obtained the amount of £2,000. On that very same day, they received an additional email stating that their request had been denied. Tfl cited an administrative mistake as the reason for the rejection.
Individual business owners who own vans that do not meet Ulez standards are expressing concern that they may be forced to close down due to delays in receiving grants. One business owner, who has been waiting for six weeks for his grant to be approved, stated that the £12.50 daily Ulez charge is causing financial difficulties and without the grant, he cannot afford to replace his van.
“I have received two rejections and was informed that my most recent application was forwarded to the ‘back room’ five weeks ago. Neither I nor TfL have the ability to communicate with them,” he stated. “This is concerning my means of livelihood.”
A mistake was made when a woman was informed that her request was not valid due to her car being listed as off-road (SORN). In certain situations, the insurance and MOT for vehicles expired while waiting for processing, resulting in owners being required to renew both and reapply.
The people filing complaints accuse TfL of having insufficient systems and providing unclear instructions, resulting in unnecessary denial of their claims. The Tfl website specifies that driving licenses must be provided, but fails to mention that paper licenses will not be accepted, leading to numerous rejections of applications. Motorcyclists have reported being stuck without a resolution because the system does not acknowledge their scrappage documentation.
Mike Wainer was able to secure funding to replace his old motorbike and brought it to an authorized scrapyard. He mentioned that according to DVLA regulations, the scrapyard needs to provide a certificate of destruction after scrapping a vehicle, but this only applies to cars. Motorcycles, on the other hand, receive a notification of destruction. However, Wainer was informed by the scrapyard that they no longer scrap motorcycles because TfL has been rejecting their notifications, leaving the owner without a vehicle and losing money. After the Guardian reached out to them, TfL assured Wainer that they would accept the notification.
Individuals whose applications are approved experience a wait of approximately six weeks before receiving the grant check after disposing of their vehicles, resulting in a delay in their ability to purchase a replacement.
According to a statement from TfL to the Guardian, they strive to send out grant checks within 10 business days once a certificate of destruction has been submitted. They also mentioned that they will consider revising their website to provide clearer information on the necessary supporting evidence.
A representative stated: “We regret any inconvenience caused to customers who have been affected by the delays in the processing of their application for our £160m Ulez scrappage fund. We continuously evaluate our application procedure and constantly explore options to make it more efficient.”
Capita was requested to provide a statement.