Vehicle Scrappage Schemes

Scrappage schemes have been vitally important to Britain’s consumers as an affordable way to reduce their emissions. But have scrappage schemes had their heyday? And do these schemes still exist?

Scrappage Scheme Overview

  • There is currently no nationwide and government backed scrappage scheme in place
  • Limited scrappage schemes exist in clean air zone cities, with support from local government. See the list.
  • Car manufacturers have some scrappage scheme offers based on the purchase of a new vehicle. See the list.
  • Scrapping a car can still get you paid cash for your end of life vehicle
  • Some cars may be salvaged and worth a lot more than scrap

Manufacturer Scrappage Schemes

Clean Air Zone Scrappage Schemes

What Is a Scrappage Scheme?

A scrappage scheme is a funded incentive for owners of older, less environmentally friendly cars to trade in their more polluting vehicles and replace them with something a little kinder to the planet. Following similar schemes in Germany, France and Italy in 1999, the first British scrappage scheme came in 2009, announced by then chancellor Alistair Darling in the 2009 Budget. Two extensions followed before it finally ended in March 2010. Since then, most scrappage schemes have been run by individual car manufacturers.

With the push for electric vehicles heightening and Clean Air Schemes becoming more regular in British towns and cities, location based scrappage incentives are also beginning to appear, allowing residents and workers to replace non-compliant vehicles with greener alternatives like electric or hybrid cars.

How Does a Scrappage Scheme Work?

Scrappage schemes often offer an up-front figure for an old car in return for taking it off the road, however this money usually must be used to go towards a brand new car, or a reduced figure with a public transport pass – encouraging more people to ditch their daily drivers and take the bus instead.

Payments are not universally available, however, and there will always be criteria that you would need to abide by before qualifying for any sort of grant payment. This is usually to do with the type of vehicle you drive, how long you’ve owned it and, in more recent schemes, where you live or work. It would be impossible for us to list all the of the individual permutations on this page, which is why we have gone into further details on each scheme’s dedicated page.

Car Scrappage Scheme Benefits

The benefits of a scrappage scheme is that you can go into the scheme knowing exactly what you will be receiving from the deal. When selling a car for scrap in the conventional way, you are bound by a number of different parameters, such as the current cost of scrap metal and the overall value of your car itself, so there is no guaranteed price from the outset. 

Scrappage schemes are also an easy way to ensure that you are able to comply with any and all clean air schemes in your areas, meaning you can avoid the pain and frustration of having to pay a daily charge over and over again.

Scrappage Scheme for Diesels

The motoring world was rocked in the mid-2010s by the now infamous Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal, where the German manufacturer had managed to manipulate the emissions testing process so that its cars passed their nitric oxide (NOx) tests, but then would go on to produce over 40 times that figure in actual running.

The scandal resulted in many people being turned off of the idea of running diesel cars, and many manufacturers, including those that were not connected with the emissions scandal, began running scrappage schemes particularly for diesel vehicles produced before 2010. The idea was to boost sales, which were dwindling across the board, of new cars, while reducing the overall number of more-polluting diesel vehicles on the road – often those built to Euro 4 emission standard specifications or earlier. 

Government Scrappage Schemes

The initial scrappage scheme of 2009 was launched by the UK Government in the 2009 Budget, and saw £300,000,000 spent to support the replacement of 300,000 vehicles. The government put forward £1,000 for customers who owned a car older than ten years old for at least 12 months, with car manufacturers also taking £1,000 off the list price of their vehicles, equating a total saving of £2,000. This scheme was extended twice before ending in March 2010.

There has not been a nationwide scrappage scheme since March 2010, however local government has run its own schemes for respective areas, such as London, Birmingham and Scotland. There are nuances to each individual scheme, and further details on each scheme can be found on the relevant dedicated page.

Scrappage Scheme FAQs

How does a car scrappage scheme work?

In theory, a scrappage scheme works by providing an advertised price for removing an old, more polluting car, from the city’s streets. In practice the price given can fluctuate based on the vehicle being scrapped. Quite often the money provided in return for scrapping a car is required to be spent on acquiring a new car, or swapped in lieu of public transport vouchers to assist in bringing pollution levels down.

How do you apply for a scrappage scheme?

Scrappage schemes run by government organisations are usually applied for online, with proof required to show that the claimant meets the relevant criteria such as location, employment status and vehicle being scrapped. If the scrappage scheme is run by a vehicle manufacturer and/or dealership then the scheme is applied for in-store much like any other special event.

When does a car scrappage scheme end?

Most scrappage schemes will have a limited shelf life, which will be announced at the time of the scheme being unveiled to begin with. Each scheme is different, and some could last as little as three months whereas others can run for over a year. If you’re looking into a scrappage scheme, it’s important to read the small print to see when the scheme runs until to ensure you don’t miss out.

Who qualifies for the ULEZ scrappage scheme?

Anyone who lives within one of London’s 32 boroughs and is the registered keeper of a non-ULEZ compliant vehicle is able to apply for the Transport for London ULEZ Scrappage Scheme. Vehicles driving in London’s ULEZ zone must be Euro 4 for those with petrol engines, Euro 6 for those powered by diesel motors and Euro 3 for motorcycles and mopeds.

Small businesses, sole traders and charities with an address registered in London can also apply for a van or minibus to be scrapped as part of the scheme.

How do you apply for the ULEZ scrappage scheme?

Eligibility for the ULEZ scrappage scheme can be found online via a specific checker set up by Transport for London, and those with a non-ULEZ compliant car can apply online by using a London road user charging (RUC) account. A photo ID must be provided which matches both the RUC account and the vehicle log book details, and you will need to provide proof of your address, that you own a non-compliant vehicle and that it is insured.

When does the ULEZ scrappage scheme end?

There is currently no published end date to the ULEZ scrappage scheme. The original scheme came into effect in April 2019 and only covered the very centre of Central London. This was then expanded in October 2021 to include the North and South Circular boundaries. A further expansion occurred in August 2023 to include all 32 London Boroughs.

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