Ulez scrappage scheme has not paid out to almost six in 10 applicants, figures show

A Ulez sign at Tower Hill in central London (PA)
A Ulez sign at Tower Hill in central London (PA)

Up to 60 per cent of motorists who applied for help to scrap vehicles to avoid paying Sadiq Khan’s Ulez have yet to receive a pay-out, latest figures suggested on Wednesday.

Transport for London said it had “committed” a total of £158.1m of the mayor’s scrappage fund to 46,616 applicants – but admitted 68,630 applications had been rejected or were still to be approved.

With only about £50m left in the fund, this could mean that thousands of drivers, charities and small businesses will not receive a penny despite following Mr Khan’s advice to scrap or upgrade their vehicle to avoid breaching the Ulez’s exhaust emission rules.

Drivers of non-compliant vehicles have to pay £12.50-a-day to drive within the Ulez. Those that fail to do so face a £180 fine.

Mr Khan initially set aside £110m in scrappage funds but increased this to £160m ahead of the Ulez expansion to the Greater London boundary last August. Earlier this month he allocated a further £50m from his 2024/25 City Hall budget, taking the total to £210m.

TfL data shows that, by January 14, 31,577 out of 64,923 applications from car drivers or motorcyclists had been approved, as had 15,039 of the 50,323 applications to the van and minibus fund.

Keith Prince, City Hall Conservatives transport spokesman, said: “The latest figures suggesting most applications are rejected is very concerning.

“These numbers represent the lives and livelihoods of thousands of people who are not only out of pocket but are also without a Ulez-compliant vehicle.”

Motorcyclists can receive £1,000, car drivers £2,000 and van and minibus owners between £6,000 and £11,500, depending on the vehicle and whether it is scrapped or retro-fitted.

TfL was unable to say how many applications had been rejected. It said the total number of applications included some drivers making multiple applications.

It said that it had to follow “due diligence” in checking the validity of applications as public funds were at stake, but tried to help applicants who had failed to supply all necessary documents.

Scrappage funds were initially available to low-income or disabled Londoners on benefits. But the eligibility criteria were ditched last August to enable all Londoners with a non-compliant car or motorbike to apply.

The data shows that of 30,186 applications from sole traders, 7,409 have been approved. A total of 593 charity applications have been received, of which 175 have been approved.

Hillingdon residents and businesses have received most scrappage money – almost £15m to date, after 4,339 of more than 10,000 applications were approved – followed by Croydon (£12.2m), Bromley (£10.1m) and Sutton (£10m).

Kensington and Chelsea residents and businesses have received least - £351,000 for 100 approved applications.

Seb Dance, deputy mayor for transport, said: “There has been huge take-up for the Ulez scrappage scheme – the biggest of its kind in the UK – and we want even more businesses, charities and individuals to be able to replace or retrofit their older, polluting vehicles.”

Christina Calderato, TfL’s director of strategy and policy, said: “Applications are being processed in a matter of days, and I would urge anyone who owns a non-compliant vehicle to apply to the scheme.”

Updated figures on the number of drivers paying the Ulez are due next month. By last September, a month after the zone’s expansion across all 33 boroughs, more than 95 per cent of vehicles met the emission rules and did not have to pay.

Lib Dem mayoral candidate Rob Blackie said motorists who had scrapped a vehicle prior to the rules being widened should be able to apply retrospectively for funds.

He said: “These figures prove that Sadiq Khan’s rushed Ulez expansion has left thousands of Londoners without the support they need.

“Far too many small businesses and sole traders are struggling to get access to scrappage money - a double punishment as they are hit with a charge each day while they try to do the right thing and change to a cleaner vehicle.

“The Liberal Democrats are calling for the expansion of the scrappage scheme, including retrospective applications. It’s the least the mayor can do after changing the rules so late in the day.”