Tax relief, air quality and exemptions: ULEZ claims and counter claims checked

Politics

The expansion of the Ultra Low Emission Zone has led to a number of claims about the controversial charging scheme in the capital.

The ULEZ expansion has created a political dividing line, with Conservatives using it as a stick with which to beat Labour and Mayor of London Sadiq Khan.

Sky News has had a look at some of the claims that have been made about the zone.

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0:30

Dozens of people held a protest against the mayor of London’s expansion of the ULEZ scheme outside Downing Street.

Will the cost of ULEZ be passed onto customers of tradespeople from outside London?

Steve Tuckwell, the Conservative MP for Uxbridge and South Ruislip, claimed tradespeople, including builders and gardeners will pass the cost of the ULEZ onto people in Greater London now in the zone.

However, sole traders and employees are able to claim tax relief on the ULEZ charge if their travel is for work.

The amount of money someone will save will depend on a variety of factors.

More on Ulez

So the full £12.50 cost of the ULEZ does not have to be passed onto customers if they are using workers travelling in non-compliant vehicles.

But this does not necessarily mean no costs will be passed on, and prices may go up to compensate.

Will ULEZ only have “minor to negligible effect” on air quality?

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2:29

Transport secretary blasts ULEZ scheme

Transport Secretary Mark Harper told Sky News that the ULEZ expansion will have a “minor to negligible effect” on air quality.

This detail comes from an impact assessment carried out for and provided to Mr Khan.

Specifically, it suggested the proposed expansion would have a minor impact on Greater London meeting its World Health Organization (WHO) targets for nitrogen dioxide, and a negligible impact on fine particulate (PM2.5) targets.

The same impact assessment stated the expansion could lead to a moderate improvement of nitrogen oxides as a whole, and a minor improvement of PM2.5 and slightly larger particulates (PM10) when taken as a whole.

Read more:
Where the expanded Greater London zone will cover
Schemes including ULEZ have made £418m since 2021
Police release image of anti-ULEZ suspect

Are visits to places of worship exempt?

Full Fact has evaluated a number of claims doing the rounds about the ULEZ.

One was a claim posted on X – formerly known as Twitter – which stated that journeys to certain places of worship would be exempt from the ULEZ charge.

This is not true, with Full Fact saying the image claiming to quote Mr Khan in the social media post “highly likely to be fake”.

Full Fact was told by Transport for London that a temporary exemption was in place until 26 October 2025 for “minibuses used for community transport by a range of not-for-profit organisations, which could include transport to a place of worship, among other activities.”

This includes “educational, religious, social welfare reasons, or other activities that benefit the community” for vehicles that carry eight to 16 people.

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2:38

Why is ULEZ so controversial?

Did the government force Sadiq Khan to expand the ULEZ?

There have been claims that the government – specifically then transport secretary Grant Shapps – forced the London mayor to expand the ULEZ.

This stems from a letter Mr Shapps sent to Mr Khan in 2020 about the capital’s finances as the COVID pandemic gripped the world.

This letter referred to the “the immediate reintroduction of the London Congestion Charge, LEZ [Low Emission Zone] and ULEZ and urgently bring forward proposals to widen the scope and levels of these charges, in accordance with the relevant legal powers and decision-making processes.”

Both the Department for Transport and the mayor’s office confirmed to Full Fact that this was not tantamount to an order to increase the ULEZ to encompass all of Greater London.

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The government stated it was referencing the expansion of the ULEZ to the North and South circulars, which took place in October 2021.

The mayor’s office said the letter from the government was “not specific” about a further expansion to ULEZ.

It did add that the government proposed expanding the size of the Congestion Charge zone, but this proposal was later dropped.

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