There are currently over 42,000 public electric vehicle charge points in the UK, alongside hundreds of thousands more in homes and workplaces. The Government have allocated a share of £381 million to every local area in England under the local EV infrastructure fund, and are also supporting rapid chargers along the strategic road network. The Government also provide grants to support the provision of charge points in flats, rental properties, residential car parks and workplaces.
According to The Times, the gulf between the number of electric vehicles on our roads and the number of public charge points has doubled in the past year. Logistics UK reports that many of its operators with commercial vehicles cannot access those points, so it seems that the Government need to do more on planning and encouraging investment. Could the Minister update us?
I thank the hon. Gentleman for his question—I thought he was going to mention the £3.29 million of capital funding that Warwickshire County Council has received in this area, but I take the general point he raises. When EV purchases are growing rapidly, as they are in this country, there will be moments of disconnect between the amount of infrastructure and the number of vehicles. We have certainly seen a bit of that recently, and we will perhaps continue to see it for a number of months or more, but what is interesting is that the new zero-emission vehicle mandate allows us to trigger billions of pounds of potential private investment, as I have mentioned. That is a world-leading intervention by Government, and I think it will pay long-term dividends in supporting the expansion of the electric car fleet.
EV charging in the north-east is falling behind the rest of the country. Most of the stock are older, much slower charging points that often do not work, and the ones that do are often at capacity. Will the Minister commit to working with Transport North East and our councils to ensure that owning and charging an electric vehicle continues to be a possibility in our region?
The point of the LEVI fund is precisely to create an equitable spread of public charge points around the country. The north-east is not badly served in the overall numbers per head of population, but we can always do better. I would be happy to meet any local organisations that are committed to that agenda, as the hon. Lady has suggested. She will know—if she has not done so, she can check in the transparency records—that we have been very active in dealing with local authorities, motorway service operators, charge point operators and others with an interest in this area.
Does my right hon. Friend agree that if local authorities were to look at their byelaws, that would enable EV charging gullies to be facilitated for those who do not have off- street parking? That would have a huge impact on the roll-out of EV charging infrastructure.
We now come to the SNP spokesperson.
Last week, my hon. Friend Alan Brown and I visited the Cromarty Firth, Aberdeen and Orkney to see the real progress in Scotland’s renewables and transport decarbonisation sectors, including the public charger roll-out, where Orkney has the highest number per capita in the UK—four times the English rate outside of London—and Scotland has twice as many rapid chargers per head. Surely that shows the fundamental role of Government in driving transport decarbonisation. The low numbers in England outside of London highlight the danger of leaving it to the market.
I do not accept the premise of that argument. We have discussed it in the Select Committee. My hon. Friend Stephen Hammond was right, because he highlighted the different technologies that can be used rapidly to extend charge points, including gullies and pop-up charge points. We are in the process of rapid expansion and change, and the House would expect that to continue. The amount of private sector investment that we have already triggered or will be triggering through the mandate once it is on the statute book will drive that process still faster.
What the Minister says ignores the reality that the gap between Scotland and England on chargers is widening, rather than narrowing. What we have seen in Scotland is a party that believes in the power of Government to benefit transport. We have EV infrastructure outstripping England, a publicly owned rail service scrapping peak-time fares, many times more zero-emission buses ordered and on the road, and active travel spending increasing to more than £300 million while budgets here are butchered. Is it not time that the Government admitted that the Thatcherite deregulation model has failed completely and instead got to work helping the state to build a transport network fit for the 21st century?
I do not accept that at all. It is inevitable with a change of this magnitude that it will be essential for state interventions to trigger private investment. That will go in the first instance where it can trigger additional growth in the market. We use the LEVI fund and other mechanisms to ensure equity across the country.