Belfast Telegraph

Hard-up motorists will pay up to 60% more for driving licences

By Claire McNeilly

Motorists in Northern Ireland have been dealt another financial blow after it emerged that the cost of driving licences will rise by up to 60%.

For people learning to drive the price of a provisional licence will be subject to a £12.50 hike (or 25%), going up from £50 to £62.50.

Renewing or repairing a licence will cost £30 instead of £20 (up 50%), while drivers applying for a licence after a disqualification will face higher increases of up to 60%.

Environment Minister Alex Attwood has announced the proposals to raise the fees at a time when drivers are struggling with record fuel bills.

Statistics from the AA last month revealed petrol and diesel cost more in Northern Ireland than in any other UK region.

University of Ulster retail analyst Donald McFetridge said the news will exacerbate the burden of owning, driving and licensing a vehicle here.

“These additional costs will add greatly to the already spiralling cost of living, particularly for younger motorists and for those who, in many parts of Northern Ireland, are heavily reliant on car usage due to geographical location,” said Mr McFetridge.

“Running a car these days is extremely expensive. Motor tax costs were increased at the last Budget with the result that a growing number of motorists are opting to tax their vehicles for only six months instead of 12, in spite of being able to save a small amount if they choose to tax their vehicle for the full 12 months.”

Mr McFetridge added that regional fuel pricing policies — whereby supermarkets charge different prices depending on geographical location — is putting drivers under added pressure.

“When taken as a whole, purchasing, taxing, running and completing even the minimum number of car journeys — as many drivers are now electing to do — has become almost prohibitive,” he said.

“A hike in licence fees could justifiably be regarded as a step too far, possibly meaning that many will have to resort to the use of public transport, if it's available, on future occasions.”

There are no plans to introduce charges for licences which are currently free, including medically restricted licences or licences for those aged over 70.

However, the fees for licences issued after a driver has their licence revoked or is disqualified would increase from £50 and £65 to £80 and £104 respectively.

The fee for the reissue of a licence to a high risk offender will also increase, to £144.

Factfile

  • The proposed price rises are out for consultation (ending on May 14), but are due to come into effect in October 2012.
  • It currently costs around £2.5m more to administer driving licences than the income received in fees.
  • Driver licensing income for 2012-13 is estimated to be £3.17m whereas expenditure is estimated to be £5.62m.


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