Today the UK “scrappage” scheme comes into operation. It was announced in the Budget by Alistair Darling just a few weeks ago, as an environmental measure, but it is really a measure to try to help the car industry which has been suffering in the recession. If you have a car that it more than ten years old you can get £2,000 for scrapping it, towards the cost of a new car.
Half the £2000 is being paid by the car manufacturers and if the scheme is successful the taxpayer will benefit from the value added tax on the new car purchase, which will be more than the £1000, but only on the assumption that the scheme creates a buying decision which would not have otherwise been made.
The astonishing thing is not the hare brained nature of the scheme. We are long used to the wealthy multinational industries picking the taxpayers’ pockets when times are hard. They seem to have a direct line to the Government and in this case Mr Mandelson has found £300 million for them.
Unfortunately for them the scheme is ill conceived; most people in the market for new cars will be better off looking for discounts from dealers or buying demonstration or nearly new cars. They will be able to save far more doing those things than using the scrappage scheme, so the scheme will not benefit the car industry at all. That does not astonish in itself astonish me.
Helping the car industry quickly by a scheme that will not work is about par for the course, in terms of competency from the environmental record of this government; it is a measure that has been badly thought out and will not help much in reducing emissions and pollution by vehicles on British roads.
What I find astonishing is the speed at which the money has been found and the scheme put together. In the solar thermal industry, which can directly save both fossil fuel energy and emissions, we have been waiting for a programme to replace the existing barely used grants programme from the government for two years. It now looks that at the earliest the nation will have to wait for a proper incentive programme for at least another two years, and even them I shall not be holding my breath for a scheme that actually works.
There is no environmental requirement for people taking up the car scrappage scheme. You can exchange a small old fuel economical car for a gas guzzling one, getting £2000 from the tax payer as a benefit.
If it is thought right to pay people £2000 to replace 150,000 cars in order to apparently sustain jobs in an industry that will inevitably lose jobs because their fundamental product is no longer badly made so as to need replacing every three years where most of the jobs are abroad and where people will want to buy even more economical cars than those presently being offered, then we have to wonder why is it so hard to find £1000 for 300,000 homes to install solar panels.
Such an incentive would create jobs in the United Kingdom for installers of solar panels, and would provide savings of at least 150,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions each year. Of course the Government has trumpeted its own legally binding commitment to reduce emissions; the £300 million for the car industry will not do this at all.
I suppose the lesson of this is that the more that you have the more you should get from the government. People buying new cars will be helped; people wanting to address climate change by investing in renewables do not, according to the government, deserve the same consideration, climate change targets or not.
Filed under: Alistair Darling, carbon dioxide, carbon emissions, cars, climate change, energy, global warming, microgeneration, pollution, renewables, solar, solar energy, solar panels, tax Tagged: | incnetives for solar panels, UK car scrappage scheme