Government bodies disagree on ‘road tax’

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“There has been no direct relationship between vehicle tax and road expenditure since 1937.”
Policy and External Communications Directorate, Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency, Swansea, August 2009

The DVLA – Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency – now gets it right every time and calls Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) a tax on vehicles, not something that pays for roads.

However, the Driving Standards Agency – like the DVLA, a part of the Department for Transport – doesn’t seem to know the difference and, in the Directgov video below, allows the actresses to call VED, ‘road tax’.

Why is this important? Because far too many motorists believe stumping up for a token annual ‘road tax’ pays for Britain’s road system: the maintenance, the new roads, the bus lanes, the painted white lines laughingly called cycle lanes.

And paying for something confers the right to use that something. So, if cyclists don’t pay ‘road tax’, they have lesser rights to use the roads paid for by motorists; or perhaps no rights at all. This leads to aggression against cyclists from drivers ignorant of their rights and responsibilities.

But if a Government video gets it wrong, what hope motorists?

Who Pays For Britain's Roads?

  • Joby Poby

    Ha ha!
    What a bunch of fools.

  • Curious

    And how do you work out that this is DSA calling it road tax?

  • Common Sense Brigade

    Ummm isn't this advert just trying to show people what they can do on the DirectGov website in a way that they can understand?

    I can't really see any real people sitting around and saying “Anyway, I must sort out the Vehicle Excise Duty or you won't have a car at all young lady” – can you? It's just using language that everyone understands – surely something the Government should do more of?!

    Just checked on Wikipedia and the DVLA and the DSA are part of the same dept – so the headline of “Government departments disagree on ‘road tax’” is wrong.

    Also, lookin at the video it looks like something made by DirectGov and not the DSA. So that's wrong as well.

    Oh and finally, I'm a driver but I don't think cyclists have less rights – and doubt I'd think that whether it was called road tax, VED, or the pro-cyclist tax. So please don't tar everyone with the same brush. Just out of interest, have you got any research on how much road tax/VED confusion leads to aggression between drivers and cyclists?

  • carltonreid

    Because it's an advert advertising the DSA. And the two actresses both say 'road tax'.

  • Common Sense Brigade

    Gotta agree with 'Curious' here – but I don't think its the DSA calling it road tax. If it's advertising the DSA, it's not doing a good there – it doesn't say “DSA” once in it. It does say “DirectGov” a few times tho. Hmm.

  • carltonreid

    For sure, it's a video trying to simplify ways of renewing VED online. If the advert can't get the terminology correct, it shouldn't use actors but should be more informational rather than acted.

    The fact that a Government agency gets it wrong by using the vernacular is my whole point. Very few people know there's no such thing as road tax or that the 'road fund' was abolished 70+ years ago.

    DVLA and DSA are executives agencies of the Department for Transport. So, they are departments within a department.

    The video was uploaded from the DSA's YouTube account

    I know of no research on road tax aggession against cyclists, but I can personally vouch that the syndrome exists. And I'm not the only one.

  • Pingback: “Cyclists don’t pay road tax, they shouldn’t be on the roads; roads are for cars.” – I Pay Road Tax

  • carltonreid

    I repeat. The advert was found on the DSA's YouTube channel.

  • Common Sense Brigade

    Sorry to bring you back on this point, but do you really think that real/average people sit around and say “Anyway, I must sort out the Vehicle Excise Duty” ? Surely the point of the advert is to use language real/average understand. Unfortunately the majority of people will not be aware of the correct terminology and using language like “Vehicle Excise Duty” would potentially just confuse them? Either way, it can't be a huge issue otherwise there'd be millions of untaxed vehicles on the roads.

    I have to say that in over 20 years of driving I've never seen a motorist shouting abuse at cyclists about road tax and the cyclist retorting that it's called Vehicle Excise Duty. The few incidents I have seen have been caused by cyclists not following the highway code – but that's something for another time.

    Don't get me wrong – I think it's important that Government give people the FACTS. And I don't think that it's EVER right to abuse cyclists. I think that more than terminology, you need to influence driver and cyclist behaviour. Not sure how you do that, tho.

    Just to be pedantic, a Government agency is just that – an agency. Not a department. The department is the thing over the the agency. I think that's why the DVLA and DSA has an 'A' in their acronyms – it stands for 'Agency' – otherwise it'd be 'DVLD' and 'DSD'. I quite like the irony of someone complaining over terminology who then does exactly the same thing them self.

    I've just done a quick bit of Googling and found this on the DirectGov website….
    It's also on the DSA's YouTube channel in a shorter version – so I think the video is from DirectGov.

  • carltonreid

    No, average people don't say 'Vehicle Excise Duty'. Everybody knows it as 'road tax'; hence the commonly held view that 'road tax' pays for the roads and anybody who doesn't pay 'road tax' (like cyclists – but, not, I guess Toyota Prius drivers) has no right to be on the road.

    You're right about the department thing: the 'Agency' endings give it away. I'll change to 'bodies'.

  • Common Sense Brigade

    Thanks for changing it over to 'bodies'.

    Just to reiterate, I'm totally against motorists abusing cyclists, and the attitude that 'I own the road' just because I'm in a car is absolutely wrong.

    Other than change misconceptions about road tax/VED, what else do you think can be done to improve the attitudes of motorists towards cyclists?

    I was very interested to watch the Tonight programme the other week where it was suggested that motorists could be held liable in terms of insurance for all incidents involving cyclists. Personally I'd favour a more education-based change.

  • Curious

    Sounds like DSA's YouTube channel has pulled in a Directgov video (it is a video sharing site after all). But the point remains it's not the DSA saying it – any more than it is YouTube saying it because the video is on there!

    You might be right about the contradictory wording. But to frame it as confusion or diagreement between two agencies in the same department is as inaccurate as you criticise the video for being.

  • carltonreid

    A YouTube channel is a publishing tool. Upload a movie file to a channel and it's publishing that movie file. The subject matter was DVLA; the publisher of the movie was DVLA.

    DVLA was not linking to a video; the movie is within its own channel, a clear endorsement of the subject matter.

  • Curious

    So why didn't your story make that clear?

    Instead, your copy says DSA “allows the actresses to call it road tax” – clearly implying DSA made the video. And clearly wrong.

    Setting aside the fact that you seem confused between DVLA and DSA in your own posts now, could it be that you just don't want to say it's a Directgov-made video because that destroys your angle of it being two agencies within one department?

  • carltonreid

    Make what clear? I stand by the fact that DSA published that video. It did so on its own YouTube channel.

    You're right though, I said DVLA in my comment to you instead of DSA. However, the original piece stands, and is correct.

    Directgov is a part of government.

    My premie is intact: gov department can't get road tax right, never mind members of the public.

  • Curious

    It's a simple but important point.
    Yes, DSA published the video on its YouTube channel.
    No, DSA did not make the video, or allow the actresses to refer to “road tax” – this is the key distinction in your claim that DSA does not know the difference.
    If your story said that “DVLA gets it right but a video made by Directgov, and shared on DSA's YouTube channel, gets it wrong” then there would be no argument, because that would be factually correct. The story at present isn't.

  • Squid

    People don't sit around saying 'I must renew my Vehicle Excise Duty' but they do sit around saying 'I must renew my car tax'. The distinction is that the tax is on the car not the road therefore they don't pay a fee to use or maintain the road they pay it for having the car.

    It is a good point, it doesn't matter what department of the government it comes from, there is no road tax so they shouldn't be telling people to renew road tax.

  • Nigel

    I usually 'sit around saying' … “I must renew my Tax Disc”

    Great blog thanks for starting the conversation.

  • carltonreid

    I do exactly the same. 'Road tax' is vernacular. VED is jargon. That's why the site had to be called and not even though it's wrong.

    Thanks for your positivity.

  • Nigel

    I usually ‘sit around saying’ … “I must renew my Tax Disc”nnGreat blog thanks for starting the conversation.

  • carltonreid

    I do exactly the same. ‘Road tax’ is vernacular. VED is jargon. That’s why the site had to be called and not even though it’s wrong. nnThanks for your positivity.