At the beginning of a new year, it’s always worth looking ahead and planning for what’s to come. But to properly prepare for 2018, it’s also important to look back on the major events of 2017, to see where they’ve left us and what they mean for the future.
So, to begin with, here’s a review of the big events for fleets and motorists in 2017:
8th March: Philip Hammond delivered his first Budget as Chancellor of the Exchequer. It was relatively light on new policies, although there were a few announcements of note for fleets. Most significantly, the Red Book revealed that the Government was exploring tax changes for diesel vehicles, and intended to announce them in the Autumn Budget. Find out more about the Spring Budget in our easy-to-read guide.
14th March: The Government introduced the Finance Bill, which confirmed many of the tax changes announced in Autumn Statement 2016 and Spring Budget 2017. These included new rules for Optional Remuneration Schemes (OpRA) and a new system of Company Car Tax (CCT) for 2020-21 onwards.
1st April: The new system of Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) announced in Summer Budget 2015 began. All cars registered from this date onwards will pay a first-year rate that depends on their carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, and a standard £140-a-year rate thereafter. Zero-emission cars are exempt from VED entirely.
6th April: The new rules for OpRA announced in Autumn Statement 2016 came into force. Most cars taken through salary sacrifice or cash alternative schemes are now subject to both Income Tax and employer’s National Insurance Contributions. Ultra-Low Emission Vehicles (ULEVs) are exempt from these changes.
18th April: Prime Minister Theresa May upended the political calendar by calling a snap General Election for 8th June.
24th April: The Government failed to publish a draft of its new Air Quality Plan by the date set by the High Court. Ministers applied to the High Court to extend the deadline until after the election, but were refused. A new deadline was set for 9th May.
25th April: In order to pass the Finance Bill before the election, the Government withdrew a number of clauses, including the one setting out the new CCT system for 2020-21. The remaining portions of the bill, including the new OpRA rules, received Royal Assent on 27th April.
5th May: Parliament was dissolved ahead of the General Election. The Government published its draft Air Quality Plan, as instructed by the High Court. It contained little in the way of detail, but did make clear that new Clean Air Zones would be a major part of efforts to tackle pollution.
1st June: New US President Donald Trump struck a blow against efforts to combat climate change by announcing that he will withdraw the US from the historic Paris Agreement.
8th June: The General Election took place. The Conservatives lost 13 seats and their majority in the House of Commons. They signed a ‘confidence and supply’ agreement with Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party on 26th June, allowing them to continue as a minority government.
21st June: Following the election, the Queen delivered her speech to open the new parliamentary session. It mainly consisted of bills related to Brexit and legislation left over from the previous session.
26th July: Following a period of consultation on the draft, the Government finally published its Air Quality Plan. This announced a ban on the sale of all new conventional petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2040, as well as identifying 29 local authorities that will have to bring in new measures to reduce nitrogen dioxide concentrations – including Clean Air Zones. The Department for Transport also launched a new consultation on proposed regulatory changes to increase the uptake of electric vans. That consultation concluded on 18th October, but the Government hasn’t announced its decision yet.
1st September: A new emissions testing regime came into force. All new models now have to undergo the Real Driving Emissions test to measure emissions of NOx and other pollutants, as well as the Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure to determine CO2 emissions and fuel consumption.
6th September: The Government introduced a new Finance Bill to bring back the measures it dropped from the previous one ahead of the election – including the new CCT rates for 2020-21. This bill received Royal Assent on 16th November.
19th September: The Climate Group launched the global EV100 initiative, with LeasePlan as a founding partner. Its aim is to accelerate the roll-out of electric vehicles and charging infrastructure.
12th October: The Government published its Clean Growth Strategy, setting out how it intends to reduce the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions. The plan includes spending £841 million by 2021 developing new technologies to reduce CO2 emissions from transport.
23rd October: A new ‘T-Charge’ came into effect in central London’s Congestion Charge zone. All vehicles that do not meet the Euro 4/IV emissions standards now have to pay an extra £10 a day to drive within the zone.
3rd November: Sadiq Khan confirmed that London’s new Ultra-Low Emission Zone will come into force on 8th April 2019, a year earlier than planned. Read our handy explanation to find out what this will mean for you.
22nd November: The Chancellor delivered his second Budget of the year – the first Autumn Budget since 1996. In contrast to the Spring Budget, this one contained a number of major announcements that will affect fleets. These included two tax rises for diesel vehicles: higher VED rates and an increase in the diesel supplement for CCT. The Chancellor also froze the rate of Fuel Duty for another year. Our Autumn Budget Guide explains these and other policies in more detail.
28th November: The Government introduced another Finance Bill – the third of the year – containing many of the tax changes announced in the Autumn Budget, including the changes to VED and CCT for diesel vehicles.
Now that we’ve done the looking back, here’s our look ahead at the major events we can expect in 2018:
26th January: The deadline for responses to the Government’s call for evidence on possible reforms to the HGV road user levy.
28th February: The closing date of Transport for London’s consultation on proposals to toughen emissions standards for the Low Emission Zone in 2020 and to expand the Ultra Low Emission Zone in 2021.
Early March: The Government is due to publish a ‘Pathway to Zero Emission Road Transport’ strategy document by early March.
13th March: The Chancellor will deliver his first Spring Statement, a slimmed-down replacement for the Spring Budget now that the main event has moved to the autumn.
31st March: 22 local authorities have been given until the end of March to publish drafts of their plans to tackle air pollution.
1st April: The higher VED rates for diesel cars that were announced in the Autumn Budget apply to all new cars registered from this date onwards.
6th April: The higher 4% diesel supplement for CCT that was announced in the Autumn Budget will take effect.
15th September: The deadline for five city councils – Birmingham, Derby, Leeds, Nottingham and Southampton – to submit the full business case for their Clean Air Zone plans.
Autumn: The Chancellor will deliver his 2018 Budget in the autumn, but no date has yet been set for it.
31st December: The final versions of local authority plans to tackle air pollution must be published by the end of 2018.
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