Budget 2017: a missed opportunity
The 2017 spring budget was disappointing for our lung health.
The government missed an opportunity to get some of the most harmful vehicles - diesel cars - off our roads.
There were some welcome announcements for NHS funding and social care, but nothing to help tackle the public health crisis we are facing from pollution.
Yet only two weeks ago, the Secretary of State for Transport agreed and said drivers should "think long and hard" before buying a diesel car and instead consider purchasing a low-emission vehicle.
Air pollution is a serious threat to our health
There's endless proof that air pollution poses a serious threat to our health. And for people with lung conditions, like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and asthma, it can make their symptoms worse and force them into hospital.
For us all, it increases our risk of getting lung cancer. And for children’s growing lungs, it can stunt their lung growth and leave them with health problems in later life.
40,000 early deaths a year
A report last year found that the equivalent of 40,000 early deaths a year can be linked to exposure to air pollution.
The pollution we’re talking about mainly comes from traffic emissions, with a large proportion of this from diesel. The World Health Organisation has said that diesel is linked to cancer.
Yet around half the cars bought in the UK are still diesel.
Motorists were encouraged quite a lot to buy these disel cars by the government in the past, and lots of people thought this meant they were making a clean, healthy choice.
Drivers need more information
If we’re going to bring emissions down to safe levels, drivers need clear information about which cars are cleanest. That’s why we, and many other organisations, told the chancellor last month we need to increase vehicle excise duty on new diesel vehicles.
This would mean that when people buy a new diesel car, the tax they pay reflects how harmful diesel is to our health.
It shouldn’t be the cheaper option.
We also want to see schemes put in place that make it easier for people to change their cars and make healthier choices. A 'diesel scrappage scheme' would encourage people to swap their diesel car for something cleaner, like a hybrid or electric vehicle. We also want to see more funding for cycling and walking.
It's not over yet
There was some good news – the documents that accompany the budget say the government will look at taxation for diesel vehicles again before the autumn budget.
We will keep fighting for the chancellor to use his next budget to be bold on diesel and show he is serious about tackling this crisis.