Scraping tax discs could save millions says Scottish MP

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A SCOTTISH MP has claimed that tax discs are ‘obsolete’ and scraping the ‘circles of paper’ could save tens of millions of pounds.

The Central Ayrshire MP, Brian Donohoe said that tax discs placed in the windscreens to prove that Vehicle Excise Duty has been paid are a waste of time and money.

The Labour MP has decided to launch a campaign against the motoring document after he discovered that the discs cost £19million each year, £5 million to make and £14 million to post.

He also believes that a change in the system could dramatically decrease the current sum of £48 million in administration costs.

Mr Donohoe, who is a special constable with the British transport Police in London, argued that there are cheaper alternatives to find out if someone has paid their road tax.

Police could use Automatic Number Plate Recognition cameras to check a vehicle’s registration and consequently its road tax or police on the beat could radio back to base for a Police National Computer check.

The MP said: “All that is needed is the registration and the authorities can figure out whether that vehicle is taxed, not to mention whether it’s insured and MOT’d.

“There should no longer be a requirement for a paper tax disc, never mind a requirement to display one in the window.

“With the advances in technology there shouldn’t be a need to pay people to administer printing and posting out tax discs or the cost of the paper to print them on.”

“They are obsolete and I’m going to campaign over this.”

Mr Donohoe discovered that in this financial year the administrative costs of the tax discs would be £48,457,495, the postage of reminder letters and discs would total £13,746,012 while the cost of the material for the discs would be £5,037,493.

A large percentage of tax discs are now bought online and posted out, over 40% according to the Department of Transport, while the remainder are sold in post offices.

Although Mr Donohoe was not provided with exact figures relating to staffing costs for administering tax discs he was able to conclude that this system of monitoring VED had the potential to be modified and save money.

He said: “This is significant when we’re looking for public sector cutbacks.”

A spokesperson for the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency said: “We collect over £5.7 billion a year in Vehicle Excise Duty (VED).

“The tax disc acts as a clear first indicator that a vehicle complies with VED and other motoring requirements.

“The majority of the administrative costs would remain if the discs were abolished.

“They are mainly fees paid to the Post Office for processing licensing transactions on the DVLA’s behalf as well as the costs of running the Electronic Vehicle Licensing system and the costs of updating and maintaining the register.”

Government Acts of 1919 and 1920 introduced the idea of a vehicle tax that would be displayed clearly.  The first tax disc was issued in 1921, a £1-per-horsepower fee.

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