Wales politics

'No Vat' on Severn Bridges after 2018, says UK government

Second Severn Crossing Image copyright Other
Image caption The two Severn crossings are due to revert to public ownership after 2018

Tolls on the Severn crossings will not be subject to VAT when they return to public ownership, the Department for Transport has confirmed.

Transport Minister Robert Goodwill said the private concession on the bridges is on course to finish in 2018.

But he said it would still take up to two years to pay off other debts worth around £88m.

Monmouth MP David Davies welcomed the news, in a letter from Mr Goodwill, but noted he had not said tolls would fall.

Current toll charges range from £6.40 for cars to £19.20 for lorries, 20% of which is made up of VAT.

In the letter to Mr Davies, who also chairs the Welsh Affairs Committee at Westminster, Mr Goodwill said:

"Once in public ownership VAT will no longer be payable on the tolls.

"Under the Severn Bridges Act 1992 it would be possible to reduce tolls to reflect the fact that VAT was no longer payable."

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Media captionCampaigners say the tolls are having a negative impact on the Welsh economy

Drastic cuts

Mr Davies said the letter followed a meeting with the minister last month, also attended by other MPs on the committee.

"All of us would like to see action taken to reduce the tolls," he said.

"Unfortunately, the minister has not said whether the tolls would fall and that is the issue I would like to pin down the government on."

The MP said the committee has estimated ongoing maintenances costs for the bridges would be around a third of the current toll price and nobody had contradicted that.

"I therefore think we must now demand a clear plan for the post concession period with a significant reduction in the tolls," he said.

MPs are debating the future of the bridge tolls in a debate at Westminster Hall on Wednesday.

Last month there were cross-party calls for the charges to be cut drastically from 2018.

The Welsh government has called for control of the bridges to be devolved.

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