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Mayor of London says government could consider funding ULEZ scrappage scheme

Sadiq Khan suggests that the government may finance the expansion of the ULEZ scrappage scheme that will support more East Londoners.

Sadiq Khan struck an optimistic tone on Thursday on whether the Government may contribute funds towards his scrappage scheme for the London-wide Ultra low emission zone (ULEZ).

Following pressure from MPs and borough leaders in his own party, the Mayor has announced that he is expanding the eligibility criteria for the scheme.

The funding pot is currently open to Londoners on certain low incomes or disability benefits, as well as charities, sole traders and businesses of fewer than 10 people.

The scheme enables owners of non-compliant vehicles to have them scrapped in exchange for a grant to help pay for a replacement vehicle. In some cases, it is possible to have a vehicle retrofitted.

The decision to expand the scheme at the end of July to cover all families in receipt of child benefits, as well as businesses employing as many as 50 people, is likely to significantly increase the number of applications made to the £110 million scheme.

Mr Khan has not announced any new funding for the scheme as part of the proposals, and he said that he continues to lobby the Government to make a contribution towards it.

Speaking to the Local Democracy Reporting Service, the Mayor appeared optimistic that the Government may decide to help pay for a larger pot of money, pointing out that it was only the case that they had refused to provide funding “so far”.

“The Government has been known to change their mind on things,” said Mr Khan.

But the Mayor also hinted that he would be willing to add money to the scheme using City Hall funding if necessary.

“Londoners know, based upon my track record with the previous Ulez scrappage scheme for central and inner London, I wasn’t scared to increase it if we needed to,” he said.

Some £25 million of the £110 million in the scheme has been committed so far.

A Government spokeswoman commented: “London has received almost £102 million of Government funding for projects specifically targeted at helping to tackle pollution.

“Decisions on how to allocate funding to best meet the city’s transport priorities are for the Mayor of London to make.”

The Ulez is expanding on August 29 to cover the whole of Greater London, with drivers of non-compliant vehicles charged £12.50 per day for travelling within the zone.

In addition to pressure from his political opponents at City Hall, Mr Khan had received several letters from Labour MPs and borough leaders, asking him to widen the scrappage scheme’s eligibility.

The letters were published on social media, just days before the announcement was made, and many used very similar wording to one another.

Louie French, Conservative MP for Old Bexley and Sidcup, said the eligibility widening was a “clearly coordinated Labour Party announcement” and called it a “pathetic political stunt”.

Asked whether the MPs and borough leaders who sent letters knew in advance that the announcement was coming, Mr Khan said: “[Not] unless they’re telepathic, or if they can read my mind.”

Asked whether the letters were a performative show of concern, he said: “I’m quite clear that it’s really important to listen to the genuine concerns of Londoners.

“Many MPs, good MPs, represent these families that will benefit, these businesses that will benefit and these charities that will benefit.

“There are some politicians who are against any expansion [of the Ulez] at all. I think it is performative to use taxpayers’ money to bring cases to the [High] Court that could be used to support these families.

“I think it is performative to have protests where those, who are often people with unsavoury views, latch onto those things – that’s performative.

“What I think is not performative, is lobbying, and trying to work with me to try and bring about some amelioration for some of the issues facing families, charities and businesses, particularly during a cost of living crisis.”

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