Firms are fleeing London to escape ULEZ – construction boss


Firms are fleeing London to escape the costs associated with the ULEZ expansion, a construction contractor has urged. 

Ultra-Low Emission Zone (ULEZ)
Map credit: TfL. Logo credit: BMF.

Nearly £400 a week to do business inside London is forcing contractors to pass the cost of trading in the capital on to customers – or else to look for work outside the city to keep their business costs down, it has been claimed. 

Champion Building Services director, Daniel Campion, baulked at the mounting costs tradespeople face working in central London, potentially exacerbated when mayor Sadiq Khan’s Ultra-Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) expansion comes into effect.  

The ULEZ is set to expand across all London boroughs from 29 August, to improve London’s air quality and people’s health.  

A £12.50 daily fee will be charged for non-compliant vehicles. This extends to diesel vans registered before September 2016 and petrol vans registered before January 2006. 

Mr Khan faces opposition to his proposal in the High Court on Tuesday and Wednesday this week. 

Councils in Bexley, Bromley, Harrow, Hillingdon and Surrey launched a legal challenge in February. 

Then, following pushback from SMEs and London households, Mr Khan announced his scrappage scheme, an up to £3,000 package aimed at low-income Londoners to scrap their old polluting vehicles ahead of the expansion. 

But Mr Campion, whose family-run construction business in Chiswick operates in the commercial, residential, fit-out and civil sectors, said firms face a more than £1,500 a month cost to do business in the city before they pick up their tools.  

He said those costs inevitably get transferred on to clients, leading to escalating prices.  

Mr Campion added contractors are actively seeking work outside London just to avoid having to deal with the costs associated with ULEZ and to remain competitive.  

“It’s crazy,” said Mr Campion. “The costs to enter and stay in central London for a day with a van are £12.50 for ULEZ, a congestion charge of £15, and parking between £30-50 a day – £77.50 a day to bring your van to work. 

“Nearly £388 a week or £1,552 a month, excluding van costs, the driver, fuel, insurance, wear and tear. This also excludes the overhead to service/pay for the charges. 

“It’s crazy. And the majority of the costs have to be passed onto our clients, making things more expensive for them.  

“We already have the problem where contractors are looking to work outside of London to get away from this problem and they can’t afford to upgrade plant and equipment to be compliant with ULEZ.” 

In April, the Builders Merchants Federation (BMF) wrote to Mr Khan warning of the knock-on effects of the ULEZ expansion on tradespeople, customers and its members, adding Greater London may become a ‘no-go area for SMEs’ whose livelihoods rely on non-compliant vehicles. 

“We can foresee a reluctance on their part to accept new work within the Greater London Boundary,” BMF CEO John Newcomb previously said. “This will have a knock-on effect for end customers, who will find it more difficult and costly to get work done. It will also affect sales turnover at merchant outlets within the new boundary, which will have consequences on the amounts of stock held and on their staffing levels.” 

The BMF is now calling for a targeted commercial vehicle scrappage scheme and a 12-month delay to the ULEZ expansion. 

In a tweet published today, Mr Khan wrote: “Expanding ULEZ doesn’t just help those already vulnerable to air pollution today. It will reduce the chance of Londoners developing avoidable diseases in the future.” 

What do you think? Send your responses to rory@wavenews.co.uk 

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