Ministers reject ‘right to charge’ EVs for multi-occupancy homes

The government has rejected pressure to offer residents of multi-occupancy buildings a right to electric vehicle (EV) chargers and has also dismissed calls to cut the VAT rate for public charging points.

In its report on electric vehicles, published in February, the House of Lords Environment and Climate Change committee recommended that ministers should consult on the introduction of a “right to charge” for tenants and leaseholders in multi-occupancy buildings.

The proposal was designed to give such households greater bargaining power to overcome landlords’ reluctance to grant requests for chargepoint installations.

The greater costs for households, who cannot charge at home, is seen as one of the major barriers to continued uptake of EVs.

However, in its response to the report the government says it disagrees with the committee’s recommendation and says the proposed right is not “necessary at this time”.

It adds that nearly 400,000 domestic chargepoint installations have benefited from government EV charger grants.

The government’s response also rejects the committee’s recommendation to explore ending the discrepancy between VAT rates for domestic and public charging.

Cutting the rate of public charging from the current level of 20% to the 5% enjoyed by domestic customers would end the current “unfair” scenario for the approximately 40% of households who lack domestic off-street parking, according to the committee.

But the response says that expanding the VAT relief already available for domestic energy would “impose additional pressure on the public finances to which VAT makes a significant contribution”.

Ministers have also rejected the committee’s recommendation that the government should consider mandating totem signs on motorways at the approach to service stations with EV charging facilities.

However the response leaves the door ajar for the committee’s recommendation that the government should consult on mandatory installation of chargepoints in larger workplaces.

It says further evidence is required on the impact that minimum requirements would have on companies’ leases.

And the government says it is currently considering the need to identify a minimum level of chargepoint provision at motorway service areas, while recognising that demand is not consistent at all sites and some sites face ‘distinct barriers’ to their roll out.

Baroness Parminter, the inquiry’s chair said: “Whilst we welcome the government’s acceptance of some of the recommendations in our report, it is particularly disappointing that it is not committing to incentivising the purchase of more EVs, equalizing the VAT differential between public and domestic charging, or addressing our concerns about barriers to charging in multi-occupancy buildings.

“If implemented, these recommendations would help people to adopt EVs and ensure a smoother journey towards net zero.  Peers will keep urging the government to do more, as otherwise the EV revolution is a non-starter.”