The big idea
Abolishing the Road Fund Licence (RFL) is not a new idea and used to be a Liberal / Lib-Dem election policy (for elections prior to 2010). However, the idea and plans were never fully thought through because of the affect it would have on the road haulage industry and DVLA with possible loss of work and jobs.
Having previously worked for a company that had a fleet of some 250+ haulage vehicle of various sizes, where it was my responsibility to tax and untax vehciles on a month to month basis, I am aware that the rate of RFL paid depends on the CC, tonnage and number of axles a vehicle has.
We must therefore make it clear that any change to the RFL cannot simply be about cars but moreover all vehicles that use the roads.
Based on the government DVLA website for the RFL, I've calculated that abolishing the RFL for all vehicles currently paying an annual fee of up to £400, would be most cost affective based on the average annual miliage of both cars and most haulage vehicles. Some much larger, heavier and specialised vehicles that currently pay substantially more than £400 for their annual RFL would possibly gain even more if the RFL was abolished and an avergae cost was added to the fuel, so some excemptions could be made.
Another advantage of adding the "tax" element for using the roads, to the fuel, is that all of the foreign vehicles that come to the UK from continental Europe and Ireland, do not, at present, make any contribution to the repair and maintenance of the UK road network. By adding the tax to the fuel, they would.
I agree that 3rd party insurance could easily and automatically be collected by the Treasury whenever the fuel was purchased. A government backed vehicle insurance agency could be set up to help administer this.
However, rather than making anyone redundant at the DVLA, their work could switch to becoming focused on chasing people who don't have an MOT. This must surely be more dangerous for all road users, than not paying the RFL. Statistics regularly prove that people who currently avoid paying for the RFL also don't have an MOT. Therefore, by abolishing the need to pay the RFL, we can focus our efforts on getting cars without an MOT, off the roads.
Furthermore, an MOT Pass disc could replace the RFL "Tax Disc" to be purchased and displayed in the window of the vehicle. The process of obtaining this new MOT disc could replace the RFL process. Rather than issue the MOT certificate at a test garage / station, the vehicle owner would have to present their completed MOT Pass certificate to the Post Office, DVLA centre or send it to the central DVLA, who would then check everything was in order and issue the MOT window display disc. The test station would also have to send / register their part of the certificate documentation, to the DVLA, in the same way that they already do.
All vehciles entering the UK from foreign countries could be issued with a temporary MOT disc based on a visual inspection at the point of entry. The owner / driver could complete a "Vehicle entry certificate" before they arrive at the port, to declare their vehicle is roadworthy and pay a nominal administration fee for the temporary UK MOT sticker. This temporary UK MOT sticker would also be displayed on the front window, (as they are in east European countries), so that a quick visual check can be made by anyone at any time. The temporary MOT sticker would last for 20 days, thus allowing people to visit for holidays but if they are coming to stay, they must ensure they get their vehicle to pass the standard MOT within this early period of time after they first arrive. Information for doing this could be given in all languages and linked to a website for further help.
If the Customs officer / point of entry official had reason to believe a vehicle was unroadworthy, it could be temporarily impounded / taken to a neaby test station and checked. I'm sure it would be possibe to set-up such test sations on-site at the larger ports such as Dover and these could possibly operate on a 24/7 basis. The vehicle owner would pay for this test and any repairs that are needed to make their vehicle road worthy.
Various statistics, reports and documentation have shown that the influx of foreigners from various countries in the past 10 years has brought in many vehicles that do not conform to our MOT and indeed an every increasing rate of accidents are being caused by foreign drivers / vehicles.
Of course, focusing on making sure that every vehicle in the UK road network is actually road worthy (has an MOT), and contributes to the road maintenance, may not reduce bureaucracy but it will ensure a fairer system of having safer vehicles on the roads is able to develop.
The Post Office / DVLA checking and processing system would be important and necessary as all MOT test stations would have to be registered. If a test station was found to be "dodgy" in any way or under investigation for issuing false Pass certificates (as random checks would need to be conducted), then the Post Office / DVLA could flag-up such occurances immediately and prior to issuing the MOT disc.
Why does this matter?
My idea helps to introduce:
A fairer and safer system for all vehicles, road users and passangers on the UK road network.
It also helps to raise more money through taxation by distributing the collection process over a wider area and number of contributors. Ensures that the more a vehicle is used on the roads, the more tax is paid.
Many people would instantly see a reduction in a direct tax and the amount that would be added to the cost of fuel, compared with rises in the purchase cost over the last few years would be so small, most people wouldn't notice it.