The Builders Merchants Federation (BMF) has written to the Mayor of London expressing its concern that Greater London may become a no-go area for many SME builders and other trades following the expansion of the ULEZ zone in August.

The Ultra-Low Emission Zone is set to be expanded on August 29, imposing a £12.50 daily charge on non-compliant vehicles across all London boroughs.

The aim of the move is to reduce pollution in the capital, where an estimated 4,000 deaths are caused by air pollution each year.

The change means that anyone using a diesel vehicle registered before September 2016 or a petrol vehicle registered before January 2006 will be charged to travel almost anywhere within the M25. 

John Newcomb, BMF CEO said: “This is likely to impact SME tradespeople operating within the M25, as a significant proportion rely on non-compliant vehicles for their work. We can foresee a reluctance on their part to accept new work within the Greater London boundary. 

“This will have a knock-on effect for end customers, who will find it more difficult and costly to get work done.

“It will also affect sales turnover at merchant outlets within the new boundary, which will have consequences on the amounts of stock held and on their staffing levels.

“We have, therefore, written to Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, calling for this policy to be reconsidered.”

The BMF’s action is endorsed by its members.

Lords Builders Merchants has 13 branches employing 300 staff operating across Greater London. CEO, Shanker Patel, said: “We believe the introduction of the ULEZ extension will hurt the very people it is designed to assist.

“Transport for London should look to delay the introduction until such time as the current high level of inflation reduces, so those affected can afford to change their vehicles.”

Frank Elkins, Chief Operating Officer of Travis Perkins, said: “Although we fully appreciate the need to drive the impact of emissions down across the whole country, we are asking for more time for residents, tradespersons and workers to be able to adapt.”

Howard Luft, CEO of Selco, added: “The proposed ULEZ expansion will hurt the residents, workers and tradespeople of London alike, at a time when many are already experiencing great financial hardship with the current cost of living crisis in the UK.”

To help low-income Londoners, disabled drivers, small businesses and charities with the transition to the new system, Transport for London launched a £110 million scrappage fund in January.

Applicants can receive £5,000 for scrapping a non-compliant van, and £7,500, if they replace it with an electric van.

So far £18 million of the money available have been claimed from 4,833 approved applications, most of which (2,650 (for a value of £13,553,500)) were made by van and minibuses owners.

Recipients so far include almost 1,700 low-income drivers, 500 disabled Londoners, 1,329 sole traders, 1,290 “micro businesses” – those with 10 employees or fewer – and 31 charities.

A copy of the full letter to the Mayor can be downloaded by clicking here.