Fears for Yorkshire tourism and motorhome manufacturing over 700 per cent rise in road tax

A rise of more than 700 per cent in the road tax paid on motorhomes and campervans has led to fears for manufacturers and tourism in Yorkshire as the Government was urged to make a U-turn.

New motorhomes and campervans registered since September 1 are now classed in the same category of cars, increasing the duty payable by 705 per cent - from £265 to £2,135, after being caught in legislation aimed to encourage lower emissions.

And with a budget announced for March 11, campaigners and MPs are now urging the Government to reverse the change and place them in the same category as vans.

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The National Caravan Council (NCC) has already lodged its objections, based on the fact that a motorhome is not a car - and is built on the base vehicle of a van - but also that while both the car and van industry had consultations over changes, the motorhome industry did not.

Hull West and Hessle MP Emma Hardy. Photo: Emma HardyHull West and Hessle MP Emma Hardy. Photo: Emma Hardy
Hull West and Hessle MP Emma Hardy. Photo: Emma Hardy

They also said that the environmental aims of the scheme would fail, as it was likely to push more people to keep older, less efficient, vehicles on the road.

Some 80 per cent of manufacturers told the NCC they were expecting “significantly lower sales in the next 12 months” due to the changes.

And even though the motorhome sector had been enjoying a modest growth year-on-year, there was a fall of 7.3 per cent in September, the same month as the change took effect.

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But a Treasury spokesperson said they wanted to encourage drivers to make more environmentally friendly choices.

NCC Director General, John Lally, said: “The NCC has over 50 key supporters in the new Parliament, including Yorkshire MPs David Davis and Emma Hardy and Sir David Amess in Southend. Emma Hardy MP is hosting a drop-in session on VED and motorhomes on 5 February and we are actively encouraging all MPs to attend.

“NCC has met previously with HM Treasury on this issue and will continue to press the Chancellor to stop taxing new motorhomes and campervans as cars. These vehicles are not cars and should not be taxed as such. We urge the Chancellor to make this urgent amendment to the VED taxation bands in the forthcoming Budget process.”

Sir Desmond Swain, Tory MP for New Forest West in Hampshire, is due to question the Chancellor on the change today in the House of Commons.

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And Hull West and Hessle MP, Labour’s Emma Hardy, is also hoping to push the issue in Parliament.

She said: “The concern is it’s going to affect the local industry, around here we manufacture lots of motorhomes and campervans and there’s been a drop in sales.

Ms Hardy held a drop-in session for other MPs to get more information in Parliament in October, and ministerial meetings were held, but now the election is over and with a new budget being announced on March 11, she hopes the issue can be fixed.

“I honestly think it’s an unintended consequence. But it just needs to be sorted, it’s not a big change.”

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And as well as manufacturers, she feared for tourism too - the Tourism Alliance, a body which represents the British tourism industry , has called for the rise to be scrapped.

Ms Hardy said: “The impact on that industry too when we want to be increasing visitors to Yorkshire and want them to see for example the beauty of the Moors, this is a growing interest and it’s a growing area.”

Tory MP for Haltemprice and Howden David Davis, and former Labour MPs for Grimsby, Melanie Onn, and Scunthorpe, Nic Dakin, also previously gave their support for a change of rules.

Mr Davis previously said: "This change to vehicle excise duty is totally unacceptable and threatens the wellbeing of one of our last great British manufacturing industries.”

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Although a relatively small industry, there are around 53 prominent motorhome manufacturers in the UK - and with 16 of those based in Yorkshire, the region has already been disproportionately hit by falling sales.

Ms Hardy added: “This is a simple but significant thing and I would question the legitimacy of Boris Johnson’s concerns about the North and northern industry [if this is not fixed].

“We should be looking at increasing and supporting business, but I do think it would be good to see as someone who has recently committed to investment in the North, this feels like a backwards step in supporting northern industry and British business.”

A Treasury spokesperson said: “We want to incentivise drivers to make the greenest choices, which is why we’ve introduced a new, robust CO2 emissions test procedure. Motorhomes move into a different VED category as a result, but we recognise the concerns of the sector, and keep all taxes under review.”