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Over half of UK councils spent nothing on charging points in the last year

Nearly two-thirds of councils also received complaints about electric-car infrastructure, according to Freedom of Information requests

Person plugging an electric car into a charger at the roadside

New research has revealed that 52% of UK councils have spent nothing on electric-vehicle charging infrastructure over the past 12 months. The figure comes from Freedom of Information (FoI) requests made to 374 councils by charging-point monitoring and management platform DevicePilot.

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In addition, nearly two-thirds (60%) of councils responding to the requests reported receiving complaints from their constituents about the availability, reliability or amount of electric-vehicle charging infrastructure in their area. Spending by councils on charging infrastructure was also unevenly spread across the country, with authorities in London shelling out more than double the average.

There are also big differences between councils when it comes to their future infrastructure plans. Authorities in London intend to install 39 new chargers per 100,000 people in 2022, compared to a national average of just nine per 100,000. But nearly half of councils (46%) either don't know how many they will install next year – or have no plans to install any.

Commenting on the responses, DrivePilot's CEO and co-founder Pilgrim Beart said: "In the next ten years, more than half the cars on the road will be electric. To facilitate this transformation, the UK must install tens of thousands of charging points reaching every corner of the country.

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"I have a lot of sympathy for councils whose budgets have been stretched to breaking point by the pandemic and budget cuts, but we cannot continue to let the divide between the EV haves and have-nots grow further. It should be the UK’s short-term goal to ensure everyone in the country can reap the benefits of EVs, not just the privileged few."

Councillor Darren Rodwell, transport spokesperson for the Local Government Association, added: “Councils are not responsible for the provision of electric vehicle charging points. However, they will invest in a range of measures to help reduce carbon and other harmful emissions from transport, including investment in cycling and walking infrastructure, introducing clean-air zones and investing in EV technology.

"Each place is different and each council will make spending decisions according to their local priorities. The EV charging industry is still an emerging one and councils have to weigh up many competing demands on both their resources, but also demands on road space as well as take into account any potential risks from making commercial investments into EV charging points."

Although council funding from local government has taken a hit in recent years, local authorities are able to draw money from the Office for Zero-Emission Vehicles (OZEV)'s On-Street Residential Charging Point Scheme, which can be used to part-fund the procurement and installation of on-street charging-point infrastructure for residential needs in areas without off-street parking. The funding available is for 75% of the capital costs of a charging point and an associated dedicated parking bay (where applicable), in line with OZEV’s minimum technical specifications.

Additional funding totalling £620 million for both this scheme and the government's plug-in vehicle grants was recently confirmed as part of the government's Net Zero Strategy, revealed in the lead-up to the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow. There was £10 million available for the on-street scheme during the 2020-21 financial year and this was increased to £20 million for the 2021-22 period.

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