Lack of government funding hinders EV adoption across the UK


DevicePilot has released a holistic report investigating the current state of EV charging infrastructure throughout the UK, which reveals that over half (57%) of UK councils have received no government funding for EV charging infrastructure over the last 12 months.

The report includes Freedom of Information Act data from 268 district councils across the UK – which covers 73% of the UK’s population – qualitative data from interviews conducted with councils, independently conducted public polling data and testaments from early EV adopters.

The FOI data reveals that England has by far the highest percentage of councils without any funding, with 62% of English councils receiving no government funding for EV charging infrastructure over the last 12 months – rising to 67% when you discount London boroughs. This compares to 38% of Welsh councils and just 6% of Scottish councils.

In total, UK councils received £27,791,621 ($35.9 million) in funding for EV infrastructure from the government over the last year, with English councils receiving close to £19 million ($24.6 million), Scottish councils close to £7 million ($9 million) and Welsh councils just over £2 million ($2.5 million).

When broken down by budget per capita, once again English councils lag significantly behind their devolved counterparts, receiving just £0.45 of funding per capita, compared to £1.91 of funding per capita in Scotland and £0.91 in Wales.

The data also shows that the UK is planning on installing a total of 5,232 charging points by the end of 2021, with over half of these (51% – 2,657) planned by London district councils.

This will increase the total number of charging points in the UK by over a third (38%). When analysing the number of residents per planned charging point, England (discounting London) is planning one new charging point for every 19,159 residents, compared to 11,621 in Wales and 6,449 in Scotland. With the majority of charging points across the nation planned in London, there will be a new charging point installed per 2,741 residents in the capital.

Looking ahead, just 29% of councils have a forward plan for charging point installation, and only a third of councils (34%) have confirmed it is an objective to install rapid charging points.

Optimistically, only 14% of councils across the UK were worried that COVID-19 would impact their budget for EV charging infrastructure. However, some councils had already felt the pinch, with one losing its £225,000 ($291,000) of government funding due to the pandemic.

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When asked to comment, English councils were generally more downbeat about their prospects, with many berating the lack of government action and available budget, whilst Scottish councils were generally happy with the automatic allocation of budget offered to them depending on their population density.

Pilgrim Beart, co-founder and CEO of DevicePilot said: “We often hear about government initiatives aimed at reducing carbon emissions but wanted to see whether they are really following through. With EV sales booming in 2020, improving charging infrastructure should be a key priority, but many councils – particularly in England – are crying out for more support. From our conversations with councils, many want to improve the situation, but don’t feel as though they have the budget to do so, or don’t know how to tap into government resources.”

When polling the public, 81% of Brits believe charging points are unreliable and often broken, whilst 68% see a lack of charging points as a moderate/major barrier to EV adoption, the highest polling response, and more than the 66% that cited the cost of EVs. This was mirrored by early EV adopters on forums, many of whom berated the lack of maintenance and the speed of charging from public charging points.

Beart continued: “Of course, once these charging points are up and running, the next piece of the puzzle is ensuring that they work properly. Maintenance and reliability were identified in our public polling and by early adopters as a key pain point, so it is up to the charging point providers to ensure they are providing great customer service, otherwise EVs will never “cross the chasm” into the mainstream. A vital part of the solution is effective service monitoring of EV charging points, which enables faults to be detected proactively, triggering business processes which resolve them quickly to keep availability high, instead of constantly reacting late to angry customer complaints.”