Sir John Bourn, head of the National Audit Office, today reported to Parliament that the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency had collected £4.6 billion of vehicle excise duty in 2002-03, although some £200 million of revenue was lost through evasion.
National evasion levels have risen to 4.5 per cent of the total revenue that should be raised, from 3.9 per cent in 1999. Motorcycles were estimated to have the highest evasion rate at 22.9 per cent. Evasion levels have risen in seven of 11 regions in Great Britain, with the greatest increases occurring in the East of England and Greater London.
The DVLA deploys a variety of anti-evasion measures including wheelclamping and the use of automatic number-plate reading equipment, and these generated some £69 million of revenue in the form of fines in 2002-03. A further £41 million is estimated to have been generated from ‘induced’ relicensing (that is, the deterrent effect of measures such as publicity campaigns and prosecutions).
Since June 1999, the DVLA has given rebates totalling £180m for cleaner and smaller engines under the Graduated VED scheme. However, an estimated £37 million has not yet been claimed by vehicle owners.
The DVLA played a key role in the introduction by Transport for London of the congestion charging scheme and the Agency responded readily to the new technological challenges that the scheme posed. Transport for London agreed to contribute to the ongoing running costs of the system. According to the NAO, the Government needs to consider how best to ensure that the DVLA can meet the needs of other local authorities who introduce similar schemes, whilst at the same time recovering its costs from those authorities.