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Survey Shows Serious Impact of ULEZ on MU Members

A survey of MU members who live or work in London was conducted in July. There were 869 responses, which is enough to give a picture of the impact the Ultra Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ) currently has, and the further impact its expansion will have.

Photo of a van driving in a city
The ULEZ came into force in London earlier this year. Credit: Shutterstock

The ULEZ has meant that most vehicles including cars and vans need to meet new, tighter exhaust emission standards (ULEZ standards) or pay a daily charge to travel within the area of the ULEZ in London. Despite lobbying from the MU, musicians are currently not exempt from these charges.

Some of the surveys most significant findings were:

  • 47% of respondents work in the zone at least once a week and 73% of them say they work in the zone several times a month.
  • 73% say they are not currently exempt from the charge.
  • 30% said they have been caught by the ‘double-dipping’ that happens when someone is in the zone before and after midnight and 75% say that they expect to be caught by this rule when the zone expands.
  • 69% of those responding said they earned £30,000 or under per year, with 45% earning £20,000 or under.

Based on the information and statistics above we believe that our members are adversely affected by this over the course of one year by between £247,000 and £494,000.

Musicians speak out about their experiences

One member in their survey answer reported:

“It's really difficult for an upcoming musician to make enough to buy a van which doesn't violate the ULEZ.

“I wouldn't drive within the zone without a reason, it's only when I have to transport large steel pans or lots of samba drums which can't fit in a car. I will be heavily affected by the ULEZ expansion and unless there is a reasonably priced alternative way to transport large instruments, I'm not sure what I'll do.”

Another member told us:

“A typical central London event looks something like this – 5:00 pm get-in (requires congestion charge and ULEZ), 6:30 pm event starts, 11:30 pm event ends. Reload equipment 12:30 am, head home paying second ULEZ charge. £36.50 from a gig fee of around £120 is a large hit.”

The MU objects to the administration of the ULEZ rather than the principle

Whether it is £36.50 or simply the additional ULEZ charge of £12.50, this has a serious impact on earnings for many members of the MU – and that is before any deductions for tax and National Insurance are taken into consideration.

In a recent letter to the Mayor’s office, MU London Regional Organiser Jamie Pullman explained:

“Whilst the MU does not object to the principal of the ULEZ, we do object to the administration of it in as much as it affects our members who work in the night-time economy and are caught by the ‘double-dipping’ after midnight.

“We sincerely hope that the Mayor's office will consider this and adjust the timings by which the payment calculations are made, removing the charge on those who are contributing to the night-time economy but who have no choice but to work beyond midnight within the zone.”

Find out more about the MU’s campaigning work and how you can get involved.

Published: 10/09/2019

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