Motorists could be allowed to have their cars MOT’d once every two years if a government brainwave to save people cash gets the go-ahead.
Transport secretary Grant Shapps is said to have raised the idea at Cabinet after prime minister Boris Johnson asked for ideas to save the public money.
Two cabinet sources told the BBC that Shapps suggested reducing the need for renewal to every two years, rather than one, to cut costs for households.
The move would save drivers up to £54.85 for a standard car MOT or £29.65 for a motorbike.
It has not been reported how popular the proposal was with other Cabinet members.
The idea has been met with a muted response from the motor trade, though, with concerns raised over safety.
Stuart James, chief executive of the Independent Garage Association (IGA), told Car Dealer this morning: ‘This proposal has come up at least four times that I have known of in the last 15 years and every time it has been deemed detrimental to road safety.
‘In times of economic hardship, it’s known that drivers cut back on servicing their cars and it’s the annual MOT that has kept the UK’s road safety at high levels thanks to the vital safety checks it carries out.
‘In our opinion this whole plan is dangerous, unwanted and unreasonable.’
James also warned that already one-in-three vehicles fail their MOT every year.
Jack Cousens, head of roads policy at the AA, added: ‘Though well intended, moving the yearly £55 spend on an MOT to every two years could make costs worse for drivers with higher repair bills, make our roads more dangerous and would put jobs in the garage industry at risk.
‘Only recently the government stepped away from switching the MOT to every two years on the grounds of road safety, while AA polling shows overwhelming support from drivers who like the security that an annual health check provides.
‘The MOT now highlights major and dangerous defects too, showing how important it is to keep cars in a safe condition.’
The PM is said to be desperately searching for ideas to save the public money – but that would cost the government little to introduce.
The PM’s spokesman has told newspapers that there is ‘no new money’ to help alleviate the cost of living crisis until the chancellor makes a further statement.
‘I’ve seen a few points raised or reported as to what may or may not have been discussed in Cabinet,’ the PM’s spokesman told the press, when asked about the MOT plan.
‘I don’t intend to get into everything that’s been reported. I think it’s important this sort of policy work is able to be done properly before being set out.
‘We are considering every possible option to ensure people can keep more of their money.’
TV presenter Jonny Smith tweeted that the idea was a ‘terrible false economy’ and not worth ‘risking national road safety’.
Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, added: ‘The industry shares the widespread concern over rising prices and the squeeze on household incomes.
‘Safety, however, must always come first and, whilst today’s vehicles are more reliable than ever, regular MOTs ensure safety-critical components such as brakes and tyres, which wear out as a result of normal operation, are properly inspected and maintained.
‘Stretching MOT intervals will undermine the safety net at a time when vehicle miles driven are increasing.’
During the pandemic the government introduced an MOT extension to help drivers unable to get to a garage for a test.
The extension added six months to the usual year-long test and caused a huge backlog on MOTs for the car industry when it was lifted.