The Ultra-Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) will come into existence three months from today in London and FSB are keen to see that the Mayor ramps up his efforts to communicate the scheme to small businesses. 

Recent FSB data showed that 63 per cent believed their operating costs would increase as a result of the introduction of the ULEZ. Just under half (43 per cent) said that it would lower their profit margins, and over a quarter (26 per cent) said that they would be unable to service or deliver to some customers or certain areas.

Over 4 out of 10 (41 per cent) respondents were unfamiliar with the tighter emissions standards they need to achieve to comply with the ULEZ – and nearly a third (31 per cent) of businesses unaware that the Ultra-Low Emission Zone comes into force in April.

With the welcome announcement by the Mayor to introduce a £23million diesel scrappage scheme for micro businesses, now is the time to take the engagement to the next level  by introducing:

1)      A soft start to the scheme by TfL and the Mayor writing letters to businesses that have entered the zone with a vehicle that does not meet the emissions standard on April 8th – and state that they have three months to change vehicles or they will receive the backdated charges.

2)      TfL and the Mayor to use the final three months to significantly increase spending on external communications on the ULEZ scheme as many small businesses inside London are unaware

3)      TfL to provide a period of grace of twelve months to businesses who have entered the zone who can prove they have a lease that runs up to April 2020 – when the original ULEZ date was set by the previous Mayor.

4)   A substantial increase in the number of electric charging points across the capital by 2020.

Sue Terpilowski OBE, London Policy Chair, FSB said:

“FSB has long argued that tackling air quality is a critical issue for London.  We support the drive of the Mayor of London to lead from the front on this issue.  However, it must be remembered that the cost of doing business in the capital is forcing many small businesses to re-evaluate their business activity.  A poorly communicated ULEZ will make small businesses think even harder about making critical business decisions, from investing in new/used vehicles that businesses rely on – to outsourcing London work to sub-contractors with compliant vehicles. 

“We are calling for high level communications of the ULEZ in the coming three months and for a light-touch introduction of the scheme to ensure that this policy meets the ambitions of reducing harmful emissions whilst still recognising the impacts on micro and small businesses.”