The Government has said it is “convinced about the need to incentivise the reduction in our transport emissions” when questioned in the Commons about a 700 per cent increase in road tax on motorhomes and campervans.
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 Labour MP for Hull East Karl Turner told Treasury minister Simon Clarke in the Commons today this would have a “disastrous” impact on the motorhome manufacturing industry - much of which is based in Yorkshire - with the the National Caravan Council (NCC) already finding 80 per cent of manufacturers were expecting “significantly lower sales in the next 12 months” due to the changes.
Mr Turner said: “The cigarette packet policy [of] increasing road duty by more than 700 per cent for motorhomes and campervans is reminiscent of the caravan tax of 2013, I think invented by his predecessor, George Osborne, it would have decimated the manufacturing industry in Hull.
“Will the Chancellor meet with me and other colleagues who are very concerned about this policy, and indeed meet with the industry so that they can explain directly to the Chancellor how disastrous this policy will be on the manufacturing industry in Hull?”
Mr Clarke said: “I actually met the National Caravan Council in October to discuss precisely these issues. As I say we are clear that we need to incentivize the production of lower emission vehicles but nonetheless, we are sensitive to the concerns of the industry. I will happily meet with him for further talks on the issue.”
Sir Desmond Swayne, Tory MP for New Forest West in Hampshire, asked Mr Clarke whether he would make it his policy to reduce the level of vehicle excise duty for motorhomes.
But Mr Clarke said the Government had introduced a “graduated system of vehicle excise duty to encourage the uptake of vehicles with lower CO2 emissions and to help meet our legally binding climate change targets”.
Even when pushed by Sir Desmond if this could change after the country was free of being tied by EU regulation, he added: “I share his enthusiasm for escaping certain regulations when we leave the EU on the 31st of January.
“We are however convinced about the need to incentivise the reduction in our transport emissions which I've referred to, these do represent a third of the UK’s total CO2 output.”
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.
The National Caravan Council (NCC) has already lodged its objections, based on the fact that a motorhome is not a car - which is the category it has now been placed in - but also that while both the car and van industry had consultations over changes, the motorhome industry did not.
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.
Yesterday Hull West and Hessle MP Emma Hardy 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.”
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.”