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New London Ulez scrappage scheme worth up to £3,000 to low-income motorists

<span>Photograph: Yui Mok/PA</span>
Photograph: Yui Mok/PA

Low-income Londoners are being offered a package worth as much as £3,000 to scrap their old polluting cars in readiness for this summer’s expansion of the ultra-low emission zone (Ulez) to cover most of the city’s roads.

Transport for London (TfL) estimates that 30,000 vehicle owners will access payouts from the scrappage scheme. However, there is only £110m up for grabs and it will be doled out on a first-come, first-served basis, with car drivers having to vie with van, motorbike and minibus owners for the money.

It is just the latest scrappage scheme to resume in the UK, joining others in Birmingham, Bristol and Scotland, which all have their own low emissions zones.

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Related: German visitor fined £3,150 for driving in London’s Ulez zone

Since 2019, drivers of petrol cars first registered before 2006 (those with Euro 3 engines and below) and diesel cars bought up to 2015 (not Euro 6) have been deemed too polluting to drive in London’s Ulez, which was expanded to include all roads within the north and south circulars in October 2021. Noncompliant vehicles can still drive in it but must pay a £12.50 daily charge.

With the zone to be expanded again on 29 August, TfL has relaunched its scrappage scheme, in part to counter claims that the Ulez adversely affects the poorest households. It is thought that about 15% of vehicles in the newly enlarged area will not comply.

To be eligible for the scrappage payments, drivers have to live in one of the capital’s 32 boroughs, have a disability, or be in receipt of one of a long list of benefits. These include universal credit, carer’s allowance, child tax credit, income support and jobseeker’s allowance.

The applicant must have owned the car they want to scrap on 30 January 2022. This is to stop people going out and buying old bangers and then applying. The car in question also has to be insured.

Applicants can’t have received payment under the previous TfL scrappage scheme when 15,000 older vehicles were taken off the road.

Once the owner has been accepted, produced all the evidence, and a certificate from the scrapyard to show that the vehicle was destroyed, they will receive a £2,000 cash payment for a car, or £1,000 for a motorcycle.

Interestingly, users can also opt for a part cash payment and one or two adult annual bus and tram passes instead. Car scrappers can receive £1,600 in cash and one annual bus pass, or £1,200 cash and two passes, which TfL says is worth £3,000.

London-based sole traders, registered charities and small businesses of up to 10 employees may also apply for the van and minibus scrappage scheme, which includes grant payments of between £5,000 and £9,500.

Owners of older, specially converted, wheelchair-accessible cars or vans have the option of scrapping it and taking £5,000 cash, or the same amount towards retrofitting a new engine or an electric conversion that will make the vehicle compliant. The retrofit payment only applies to vans, not converted cars.

It is not only in the capital that drivers are being paid to scrap their old cars. In Birmingham, drivers can get £2,000 in public transport travel credits, or £2,000 towards the purchase of a compliant car through Motorpoint. In that case you need to live outside the low emissions zone and earn less than £30,000 a year.

There is a similar scheme in Bristol, while in Scotland there is up to £3,000 in help, provided you live within a 20km radius of such a zone and are in receipt of benefits. Bath’s scheme is not currently open.