Congestion charge hike hits John Lewis

John Lewis has estimated that the increase in London’s congestion charge will cost its company car fleet up to an additional £100,000.

From July, the cost of driving into central London rose from £5 to £8 a car, with company cars registered with Transport for London’s fleet service seeing an increase from £5.50 to £7.00.

David Sheppard, deputy head of transport at John Lewis, said: "[The increase is] an irritant more than anything. We don’t welcome any more costs because whatever way you look at it, it’s a tax on us going into London to do our jobs."

He added that while the increased charge will not be huge as a percentage of its total fleet cost, the real hit will be felt by the loss of trade it will bring. "It’s still something we can’t pass on to customers."

Company car drivers at the high street retailer, which has a large presence on Oxford Street, do not have to pay the charge themselves. Out of a fleet of 1,700 cars nationwide, 100 vehicles travel in and around central London and use Transport for London’s fleet scheme. Sheppard said that this process had made the congestion charge easier to administer, compared with when it was launched.

He also hoped that if any of the planned extensions of the scheme went ahead, the government would use the same system so that the partnership wouldn’t have to re-register its fleet.