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Is ULEZ a tax on the poor?

It was 2014 when the former Mayor of London (Boris Johnson) announced his plans to introduce ultra low emission zones into the capital however, it was imposed by his successor Sadiq Khan in 2019. Since then, nitrogen dioxide levels created by traffic have drastically reduced by 46%. This action holds significant weight as nitrogen dioxide can cause severe respiratory issues.

Five years on, with minor expansions, Khan plans to expand the ULEZ to all of the London boroughs, so now the zone will border the M25. In turn, this will affect 700,000 drivers who must pay the daily fee of £12.50. This in particular, includes places like: Croydon, Bromley, Ilford and Dagenham. This is a dire problem as the people in these communities can not afford the £12.50 a day or upgrade to a new eco friendly car that meets the specific standards! When Khan was faced with this, he simply exclaimed that “clean air is a human right” hence this is why this measure has been imposed.

His clear disregard for the heavy cost that will pound down into the hearts of the working class suggests that he simply does not care. His actions are damaging to those who are on the bottom end of the class system yet he places the environment over the people inhabiting it. Without a doubt, I do care for the environment but not at the expense of the already vulnerable working class - especially as they did not craft this climate mess in the first place! Instead, why not inflict a climate tax on the corporations who damage the environment even more than the vehicles that are essential to most people. For example, the oil companies, which are situated in the North Sea, could inherit a higher tax as their new plans are extremely catastrophic for the climate - particularly because Rishi Sunak has urged the companies to “max out” as much oil as they can. Asthma and lung disease is considerably higher in the outer parts of London and this may be due to the population predominantly being elderly, therefore making them more susceptible to these illnesses. Albeit, the ULEZ does not need to expand into the more suburban areas and ultimately become a burden on the poor. This is because small businesses won't be able to operate, the cost of replacing good condition vehicles is astronomical and rerouting journeys is inconvenient - ultimately leading to more greenhouse gases being emitted just to avoid the ULEZ.

Up until a few years ago, it seemed that the government was urging people to convert to diesel vehicles instead of petrol as it was thought to have been “better for the environment” but they are now surprisingly going back on their word. Thus many bought a diesel car yet now cannot use it. This is why it is a tax on the working class! They are the main victims being forced to comply with this new heinous policy; the ultra wealthy would not have to bat an eyelid when converting back to petrol or paying the £12.50 a day charge! With that being said, ULEZ is a tax on the poor as it is quite frankly just unfeasibly for everyday civilians, sole traders and business owners to carry out their day to day practices leaving the rich to see no absolute difference.

We cannot allow this to continue; we cannot allow the wealthy to dig deeper into the pockets of the working class. The wealthy already dig deep into the ground. Destroying the planet and causing the rapid increase of climate change may just be their starting point. How far will they dig (into the pockets of earth or the working class) till they realise they have reached rock bottom?

Billy Walker


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