Councils say that cannot afford to pay their 25% of charging points due to government budget cuts
Local councils have failed to create more electric charging points, despite the government putting aside millions of pounds to encourage Britain’s motorists to go-green.
Just five councils - Portsmouth City Council, Cambridge City Council, Luton Borough Council, Kettering Borough Council and the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea – have asked for their share of the 2018/19 £4.5million pot to install electric car charge points.
Around a third of homes in England do not have off-street parking, making it extremely difficult to charge an electric vehicle overnight.
As a result, on-street charge points like those being offered through this scheme have the potential to entice drivers to switch to electric.
Now, government ministers have written to councils urging them to take up the scheme which will cover 75% of the cost of buying and installing the charge points – providing £7,500 per installation.
Transport minister Jesse Norman said: “We are in the early stages of an electric revolution in the UK transport sector, and connectivity is at its heart.
“Millions of homes in the UK do not have off-street parking, so this funding is important to help local councils ensure that all their residents can take advantage of this revolution.”
Millions committed to helping Brits go-green
The government committed £500million in November’s budget to encouraging motorists to buy an electric car as well as improving the infrastructure around switching to electric vehicles (EV).
Charge points can be anything from new points popping up on streets to adapting existing lampposts.
The grant has been available since 2016 but with only five councils taking advantage of the fund, £4.5 million is still available for authorities – enough for thousands of extra points.
Earlier this week (January 12), the government announced the extension of current grant rates for both the Electric Vehicle Homecharge Scheme and Plug-in Car Grant which offers up to £4,500 to encourage motorists make the switch to electric.
The government's plan to ban the sale of new diesel and petrol cars by 2040 may be in question if councils aren't able to install electric charging points.
Research by Go Ultra Low in 2016 showed over 90% of EV charging is done at home, with only 11,000 publicly accessible charge points across the country.
The On-Street Residential Chargepoint Scheme would make it much easier for people living in urban areas, particularly in flats, to own and charge an electric car.
Cash-strapped councils can’t cover charge point costs
But councils are pointing to budget cuts as the reason for the low uptake; with the grant covering 75% of the costs, councils say they would struggle to afford the final 25%.
Councillor Martin Tett, the Local Government Association’s transport spokesman, said the scheme requires private sector-funding to be a success.
“Councils are keen to embrace emerging transport technology for the benefits of their residents and communities, however, any new responsibilities to ensure there is sufficient electric car charging infrastructure must be matched with adequate funding. In the long term, this must be a role for the private sector,” he said.
“Councils have many competing priorities and statutory responsibilities, including dealing with the rise in demand for children’s and adult social care, or tackling the £12 billion national backlog of road repairs. “We support the government’s focus on environmentally friendly travel and are keen to see more detail on a long-term, properly funded plan.”