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LTDA writes to Treasury calling for VAT exemption on wheelchair accessible taxis

Image credit: LEVC

The Chairman of the Licensed Taxi Drivers' Association (LTDA) has written to the Treasury highlighting the need to revisit an exemption for the Value Added Tax (VAT) on the purchase price of wheelchair accessible taxis.

Paul Brennan, LTDA Chairman, called for VAT relief similar to the exemptions already in place for certain passenger transport vehicles and Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles (WAVs) used by disabled individuals and carers.

Brennan has taken the initiative to write a letter to the Treasury, urging them to consider providing VAT relief on the purchase of wheelchair accessible taxis. He emphasised the importance of this exemption, particularly in the current financial climate, to support both the taxi trade and the door-to-door service it offers for wheelchair users.

Brennan said in TAXI Newspaper: “An opportunity to revisit an exemption for the VAT part of the purchase price that was previously thwarted by EU rules, is an avenue that needs to be explored again.

“With that in mind, I have written to the Treasury asking them to look at providing VAT relief on the purchase of wheelchair accessible taxis, similar to exemptions already in place for some passenger transport vehicles and WAVs purchased for use by disabled people / carers. We’ve tried to head off some of the usual arguments against doing this and think that in the current financial climate it is a reasonable ask to support the taxi trade and the wheelchair accessible, door-to-door service we provide. Watch this space.”

In the letter sent to Victoria Atkins MP, Financial Secretary to the Treasury, it highlighted the need to ‘protect a key mobility solution’ in metropolitan cities like London, Manchester and Birmingham.

The letter reminds the Treasury that in London licensed taxis provide subsidised travel for disabled passengers through the Taxicard scheme, which ensures all disabled people access to affordable transport.

The purchase price for the only London taxi approved to meet strict licensing conditions is the LEVC TX with a purchase price starting at around £68,000. On top of that, high interest rates have pushed finance up over £20,000.

Last month, TaxiPoint also wrote about the benefits of a WAV VAT exemption to the industry.

The potential advantages of this proposal would incentivise taxi drivers to transition from traditional internal combustion engine vehicles to EVs, promoting a cleaner and more sustainable transportation system. The reduced operational costs of EVs, coupled with the tax relief, would make WAV taxis a financially viable option for drivers.

Secondly, an increase in the number of licensed EV taxis would enhance the availability and accessibility of transportation services for disabled passengers. With a greater presence of WAV taxis on the road, individuals with disabilities would enjoy improved mobility options, leading to enhanced inclusivity and convenience.

By reducing financial barriers and encouraging the adoption of electric WAV taxis, authorities could aim to achieve a greener transportation sector while ensuring equitable access to transportation services for disabled individuals.

In the latest August 2023 edition of TaxiPoint magazine there was also a focus on the worrying decrease in licensed WAV cabs despite a boom in private hire vehicle (PHV) numbers. Less than 1% of all PHVs are WAVs.

That low figure has once again raised concerns over future accessibility and inclusivity in the capital as the number of licensed hackney carriage WAV drivers shrinks.

The DfT's statistics showed that in 2023, out of all the licensed vehicles in England, only 13% were wheelchair accessible. This percentage includes both taxis and PHVs. Taxis performed much better in terms of accessibility, with 55% of them being wheelchair accessible. However, the figure for England’s PHVs remained worryingly low at just 2%. These proportions closely mirror the statistics from the previous year, indicating little progress has been made in improving accessibility within the PHV sector.

In London, less than 1% of PHVs were wheelchair accessible, while in the rest of England, this figure slightly increased to 3%. Generally, larger metropolitan areas tended to have a higher proportion of wheelchair accessible taxis, but lower proportions of wheelchair accessible PHVs, exacerbating the transportation inequality faced by disabled individuals.


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