ULEZ will ‘seriously impact’ income of construction firms


The ultra-low emission zone (ULEZ) expansion will “seriously impact” the income of construction businesses at a time of high costs and project delays and cancellations, an industry leader has warned.  


Firms could work longer hours to limit trips into the capital, and potentially lose work due to the need to increase their prices to cover additional costs, said Door & Hardware Federation (DHF) commercial director, Patricia Sowsbery-Stevens. 

It comes after the expansion was ruled lawful by the High Court last week.  

The scheme, coming into effect across all London boroughs from 29 August, includes a £12.50 daily fee for non-compliant vehicles. 

Those that fail to pay the charge could face a fine of up to £160.    

This extends to diesel vans registered before September 2016 and petrol vans registered before January 2006.  

But the DHF, a merger of the Association of Builders’ Hardware Manufacturers (ABHM) and the Door and Shutter Manufacturers’ Association (DSMA), urged the mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, to consider “alternative options”, especially for SMEs. 

Builders Merchants Federation (BMF), CEO, John Newcomb, said the ruling was “bad news” for London’s building industry and that livelihoods are “at risk”. 

He urged a 12-month delay to the expansion to allow firms to prepare and secure compliant vehicles.  

In April, Newcomb 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.   

He has since called for a “targeted” commercial vehicle scrappage scheme to support tradespeople.   

Following pushback from SMEs and London households, the mayor recently 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.     

From this week, he will expand the scrappage scheme to all small businesses with up to 50 employees. 

“I’ve been listening to Londoners throughout the ULEZ rollout, which is why from next week I am expanding the scrappage scheme to nearly a million families who receive child benefit and all small businesses with up to fifty employees,” said Mr Khan.  

“We are disappointed by [this] decision,” said Newcomb of BMF“It’s bad news for London’s building industry. Livelihoods are at risk. We will continue to press for changes to the scheme, to protect jobs and the local economy.” 

Newcomb added: “BMF members recognise the importance of air quality and as responsible employers our members take a number of steps to ensure fuel efficiency and the health and wellbeing of staff. 

“However, we firmly believe that a 12-month delay to the start of the ULEZ expansion will allow businesses and individuals to prepare – especially in relation to the availability of compliant vehicles.” 

Image credit: Matt Brown, via Wikimedia Commons.

Sowsbery-Stevens of DHF said: “Whilst we fully support the need to cut emissions and protect the environment, we urge the mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, to consider alternative ways to limit the impact that ULEZ will have on businesses in the construction industry including that he reassess this extension. 

“The planned extension will seriously impact the income of construction businesses, and at a time when inflation remains very high and customers are delaying or cancelling projects due to higher costs and limited budgets, this will make the commercial environment even more challenging. 

“ULEZ will increase the cost of construction workers using vans to go to work, could cause construction workers to work longer hours to limit the number of times they need to travel into the centre, could cause construction companies to lose work due to the need to increase their prices to cover this additional cost on top of the cost-of-living crisis and increasing transport costs, and may potentially undermine the mayor of London’s plea for construction workers to work in the capital to help improve the city’s housing stock.”   

Sowsbery-Stevens added: “DHF cannot stress enough the considerable impact, not just on construction businesses, but on all businesses that have a legitimate reason to travel into the Ultra-Low Emission Zone, and we hope that alternative options will be considered that prioritise small-to-medium-sized businesses operating in the capital.” 

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