Ulez sign, via PAUlez sign, via PA


Red tape leads to Ulez scrappage discontent as thousands of grant applications are rejected

  • Drivers trying to claim £2,000 grant are being frustrated by bureaucracy
  • Insider tells Car Dealer more than a third of claims are being rejected
  • TfL says it has a robust process in order to prevent fraud
  • But some applications are being rejected on a ‘petty’ technicality

Time 8:18 am, December 18, 2023

Thousands of motorists have had their applications for a £2,000 Ultra Low Emission Zone (Ulez) scrappage grant rejected on technicalities, some of which occurred during the application process.

To date, according to Transport for London (TfL) more than £36m of the £171m allocated to the Ulez scrappage scheme remains unclaimed, but one insider says that over a third of claims related to the scheme are being rejected.

An employee of Capita, the private company that handles claims processing for TfL, told Car Dealer that they are given a checklist for each claim and if one piece of data is missing then the claim is rejected and sent back to the owner.

The process can become protracted and lead to problems if, for example, the owner chooses to not renew their tax, MOT or insurance after submitting their initial claim.

The Capita employee told us: ‘The most common reasons for a car being rejected for the scheme is if the MOT or vehicle tax has expired, but a lot of applicants have said they’ve not renewed either because they are no longer using their car as a direct result of Ulez.’

Frazer Rhodes, a 29-year-old sound engineer, has since sold his 2009 Mercedes-Benz C-Class privately after twice having his application rejected.

‘My first application was rejected as the car was registered in my name but my husband submitted the grant application, as the vehicle was shared between us and we live at the same address,’ he said.

‘The claim was rejected because the car was registered to me but insured by him and although we’re married we don’t share the same surname.

‘We couldn’t re-register the vehicle in his name as you need to have owned the car since January 2002 to qualify, so we changed the insurance to my name and resubmitted the application.

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2009 Merc C Class CDI from CD 190

One person ended up selling their Mercedes C-Class, similar to this one, privately because of problems they had trying to claim the scrappage grant from TfL

‘Unfortunately, during the time the application was going through for a second time, the MOT expired and the claim was rejected.

‘In the end, we gave up and sold the car privately to a family member outside London for almost as much as the scrappage payment.

‘It was easier – and also better for the environment in my opinion as our car was far too good to throw away.’

Data from TfL shows that incomplete paperwork is the main reason for rejection.

A spokesperson said:’We aim to accept or decline scrappage applications within 10 working days and have a robust process to verify the documents we receive as part of our measures to guard against fraud.’

However, some reasons for rejection have been branded ‘petty’ by applicants, who are asked to submit their registration documents and insurance certificates as part of the application process.

An investigation by The Observer found that one person had her application rejected as the logo of the insurance company was partially obscured on the scan of the documents.

Another was thrown out because the colour scan of the V5 was faded due to low printer ink.

Other reasons for rejection included the V5 still being in the owner’s maiden name, or in the case of several sole traders, vehicles being registered in the name of their company rather than their personal property.

In multiple cases, the insurance and MOT expired during processing of the claims and owners were told to renew both – often for vehicles no longer in use – if they were to submit a new application.

Sadiq Khan

Sadiq Khan’s expansion of London’s Ulez has led to widespread anger

The problems have now led to some applicants withdrawing their applications.

To receive the money, the final stage is to send TfL (via Capita) the car’s certificate of destruction, which is issued by the scrapyard that takes the vehicle.

But it can then take a further two weeks for the payments to be issued by cheque, rather than bank transfer, and many owners simply don’t trust the process once they’ve already surrendered their car.

TfL added: ‘We regularly review our application process and always consider any further ways to streamline our handling of applications.’

London Assembly member Caroline Pidgeon said TfL was failing to explain in all cases why applicants had been rejected.

In a written question to mayor Sadiq Khan, she asked him to ensure the process was reviewed and that caseworkers were ‘specifying the precise information to help residents understand any issues related to their application’.

In response, the mayor’s office said TfL ‘endeavours to make rejection letters as clear as possible’.

Meanwhile, Dartford Tory MP Gareth Johnson has introduced a Greater London Low Emission Zone Charging (Amendment) Bill to Parliament to let the government overturn the Ulez expansion.

It received its first reading on December 6 and progressed to a second reading, due to take place on March 22.

He told BBC Radio Kent: ‘This Ulez expansion has nothing to do with pollution. I don’t accept what the Mayor of London is saying.

‘If he really wanted to actually stop these vehicles coming into London then he’d just ban them. This is a cruel form of taxation.’

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