Number of vehicles clamped for non-payment of excise duty revealed for months before/after abolition of tax disc.
Clamping figures for 2014 and 2016
Driver & Vehicle Licensing Agency enforcers clamped thousands of extra cars per-month for non-payment of excise duty since the abolition of the tax disc in October 2014, the BBC confirmed. On average, freedom of information request data showed that 5,100 were clamped per-month in the period immediately prior to the abolition.
In contrast, 9,200 were clamped per-month in the period to October 2016. This creates a suspicion that motorists increasingly fell foul because the tax disc – that was a prominent reminder of when to pay - is no longer present. Joanne McCusker, for example, a nurse in Salford, came home from a shift and found her car clamped.
She said: "I think it's awful. In all my years of driving, I've missed one payment and that was only since they've removed the tax disc."
The penalties for failing to pay can be considerable. Possible sanctions include a: £100 clamping release fee (first day), £200 release fee if the car has to be taken to a pound, £21 per-day storage fee, £80 late licensing fee plus the cost of any unpaid duty. Furthermore, after 14 days a vehicle can be sold or scrapped.
Driver & Vehicle Licensing Agency Chief Executive, Oliver Morley, said: "The law is that you pay your tax. The vast majority pay with no problem at all.” He confirmed that drivers receive reminders through the post and by e-mail. However, motorists that fail to keep their contact information up to date might miss the reminders.
Reminder not received
Ms McCusker missed her reminder letter having moved house. She expected to be contacted, however. McCusker reported a change of address – so her driving licence was updated successfully – but wrongly thought that the new information would be transferred to all records that relate to the vehicle - including excise payments.
Of her punishment, she explained: "I think it's a bit heavy-handed. There could be another way, I'm sure, rather than have it clamped. It is very unfair. I was quite shocked and upset", McCusker stated.
Driver & Vehicle Licensing Agency enforcement comes via a private firm called NSL, the BBC reported. It operates a fleet of vans equipped with automatic number plate recognition technology linked to a database of taxed/untaxed vehicles. The company works its way around every postcode throughout the United Kingdom (twice a year).
How to pay vehicle excise duty
Vehicle excise duty can be paid online, by telephone and at a post office. Payment options include: direct debit, credit card, debit card, cheque, cash, postal order and sterling travellers cheques.