The requirement for motorists to have an MOT check on their vehicles every year could be scrapped under plans to ease the cost of living crisis after Boris Johnson instructed ministers to suggest policies that would not cost the Treasury any money.
The Prime Minister used a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday to brainstorm ideas with his ministers, producing a raft of blue sky proposals that will now be considered by a cost of living committee that he will chair.
Grant Shapps, the Transport Secretary, suggests increasing the length of MOT certificates, which are currently valid for 12 months.
If the policy becomes law it could save motorists £54.85 a year, which is the legal maximum cost of a test, although testing centers are free to set their own prices. MOTs are required annually for most cars that are more than three years old.
One source who attended the Cabinet meeting told The Telegraph: “If we moved from an annual check to a check every two years, that is halving the cost of MOT renewal. That is a bread and butter policy that shows that the Conservatives are on your side.”
Changes mooted to lower childcare costs
Other ideas suggested include an increase in the number of children each childminder is allowed to look after at once, which ministers believe will bring down the cost of childcare.
The cost of childcare in Britain has spiralled in the last decade, with the price of care for a child under two increasing by a third to £137.69, according to data from the Family and Childcare Trust.
The policy has previously been floated by the Department for Education and its advocates point out that the UK’s childcare ratios are some of the highest in the world, while British childcare is among the most expensive in the OECD.
Childminders in Britain may only care for six children under the age of eight at a time, while early years providers can care for three children under two, or up to 13 over the age of three.
Ministers are also considering easing tariffs on imported foods that cannot be produced in the UK, such as rice, although the policy could be blocked by the Treasury because it would reduce customs revenue.
Cabinet committee to study options
The policies will now be considered by a cost-of-living Cabinet committee, chaired by Mr Johnson, which will explore their feasibility and whether they could be implemented without cost to the taxpayer.
Additional measures that will hit departmental budgets are expected later this year, but will likely be announced by Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor, in his Autumn Budget.
Treasury sources have already indicated that more assistance with the cost of living will be announced to coincide with an expected increase in the Ofgem energy price cap, which is being reviewed again later this year.
Changes could make costs worse for drivers
The AA on Tuesday criticized the suggestion that MOTs could only be required every other year, because they may lead to higher repair bills for motorists who do not catch problems with their vehicles early enough.
A spokesman for the group said: “Though well intended, moving the yearly £55 spend on an MOT to every two years could make costs worse for drivers with higher repair bills, make our roads more dangerous and would put jobs in the garage industry at risk.
“Only recently the Government stepped away from switching the MOT to every two years on the grounds of road safety, while AA polling shows overwhelming support from drivers who like the security that an annual health check provides.
“The MOT now highlights major and dangerous defects too, showing how important it is to keep cars in a safe condition.”
Mr Johnson said in Tuesday’s Cabinet meeting there was “more to do, including in areas like childcare, to further ease pressures for those that need it most and to get even more people into high-skilled, high-wage jobs”.
Mr Johnson would not be drawn on whether the Government would change childcare rules but said schools should take advantage of an existing tutoring scheme.
“It’s a fantastic thing,” he said. “We delivered millions and millions of tutoring opportunities that we want to deliver in the course of the next few years. But at the moment, only 60 per cent of schools have actually taken up the tutoring offer.”
Mr Sunak is said to have cautioned against higher government spending by emphasizing the “importance of not feeding in to further inflation rises”.