Friday, September 6, 2013

Plans to Levy Charges on Foreign Road Haulage Operators Finalised

Company Responsible to Bill Overseas Trucks Carrying Freight in the UK Announced
Shipping News Feature

UK – Northgate Public Services, which has a track record in delivering IT solutions to central Government departments, has been appointed by the Department for Transport (DfT) to develop and operate the foreign operator payment system for the forthcoming HGV road user levy. The toll system to ensure road haulage outfits pay their way towards the upkeep of British roads will apply to all trucks that weigh 12 tonnes and more using the UK road network. The new time-based user charge will come into effect on 1 April 2014 and will ensure that for the first time, foreign HGV’s contribute to the costs they impose whilst engaged in shipping freight, whether involved in import/export activities or cabotage.

The levy has been set in line with EU legislation with the rate paid reflecting vehicle weight and axle configuration. There are seven levy bands which align with existing Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) bands. For a 40 tonne 5 axle artic, the most common type of foreign vehicle coming to the UK, operators will pay £10 per day or £1,000 per year. The charge is designed to be cost neutral for UK hauliers, through offsetting reductions in VED payments and the requisite changes to VED will be included in the Finance Bill 2014.

The foreign operator payment system will enable operators or drivers from overseas to purchase the levy in advance before entering the UK through a number of sales channels including online, telephone and point of sale terminals. The system will also create a database to enable authorities to identify hauliers who have not paid and the proposals were warmly welcomed by UK operator representatives when details were announced a year ago following the original DfT statement in January 2012. Transport Minister Stephen Hammond said this week:

“Getting the foreign operator payment system right will be crucial to the success of the levy. The system will be easy for foreign carriers and their drivers to access and straightforward to use. Its design also sends an important message to those foreign operators who think about avoiding paying. If you don’t pay, or underpay, you will be caught and face a £300 fine.”

Northgate Public Services won the contract after a competitive tendering process, and will be responsible for the design, build, finance, operation and maintenance of a foreign operator payment system for the HGV levy. The agreement will initially run until 2019. David Meaden, Chief Executive of Northgate said:

“The foreign operator payment system will provide a simple and effective means of ensuring that foreign hauliers who use the UK road network contribute to the cost of its upkeep. By re-purposing existing technology, the programme can be delivered in a shorter timescale and with lower costs and risk than would otherwise be possible.”

The majority of UK HGV’s will see no increase in costs as reductions in Vehicle Excise Duty will fully offset the cost of the levy. The Government says that it is working hard to ensure that where cost increases are faced, these are kept to a minimum. The Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA) will have primary responsibility for enforcing the levy in Great Britain and the Driver and Vehicle Agency (DVA) in Northern Ireland.