HomeBusinessEV owners face a postcode lottery for charging costs, says British Gas

EV owners face a postcode lottery for charging costs, says British Gas


Electric car owners face a ‘postcode lottery’ for public charging costs as just 21 councils allow drivers to top up batteries for free – is yours one of them?

  • While some authorities provide free chargepoints, others demand huge fees
  • Some council-operated devices charge up to £4 per kilowatt hour of use
  • To charge a typical EV’s battery from 0-100% at that rate would cost £240
  • The same charging session using an off-peak home tariff would be around £3.90


Electric car owners face a ‘postcode lottery’ for charging costs when using council-owned devices, according to new research.

Research by British Gas found that just 21 councils across England and Wales allow motorists to top up their batteries for free when other authorities are charging EV drivers up to £4 per kilowatt hour (kWh).

To charge a typical electric vehicle from flat to 100 per cent at that rate would cost £240, the analysis found. While the same charging session at home using a dedicated off-peak EV tariff would be around £3.90.

Electric car owners face a ‘postcode lottery’ for charging costs when using council-owned devices, according to new research by British Gas

The staggering difference in charging costs at public devices will make difficult reading for those with plug-in cars who do not have driveways or off-street parking at their property, which represents a third of UK households. 

These drivers are therefore reliant on public charging points.

British Gas found that drivers in the South generally have access to more devices but have to pay more to use them.

21 councils that provide free EV charging 

1. Arun

2. Bracknell Forest

3. Bradford

4. Bridgend County Borough Council

5. Crawley

6. Daventry

7. East Riding of Yorkshire

8. Hambleton

9. Lancaster

10. Leeds

11. Lichfield

12. Lincoln

13. Oadby and Wigston

14. Southampton

15. Staffordshire

16. Stevenage

17. Stockport

18. Swindon

19. Tunbridge Wells

20. Warrington

21. Woking

Source: British Gas 

The average cost per kWh at the cheapest charging points across East Anglia, London, the South East and the South West is 32p, compared with 25p in the Midlands, the North East, the North West, Yorkshire and the Humber and Wales.

The figures were obtained following Freedom of Information requests to more than 400 councils.

Those offering free charging include Bridgend, Leeds and Woking.

The most expensive fees are charged by Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council on the south coast, and Cotswold District Council, Gloucestershire, at £4 per kWh.

The figures do not take into account the speed of the charging points.

British Gas issued a warning over the ‘postcode lottery’ of fees after commissioning a survey of 2,000 motorists, which indicated one in three are nervous about switching to EVs due to charging costs.

The most expensive fees are charged by Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council on the south coast, and Cotswold District Council, Gloucestershire, at a staggering £4 per kWh

The most expensive fees are charged by Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council on the south coast, and Cotswold District Council, Gloucestershire, at a staggering £4 per kWh

The energy firm’s head of EV enablement, Lucy Simpson, said: ‘The latest figures released today demonstrate the need for all UK councils to play their part in supporting the transition to electric vehicles.

‘Currently, we have 21 progressive councils that have decided to support local EV adoption, so we would expect a greater uptake of EVs to come through in these areas than in councils where it is expensive to charge.

‘If charging doesn’t become more accessible in these areas, we could see a slower rate of adoption.

‘Whilst the Government does offer certain financial incentives at the point of purchase, charging costs are still a barrier to electric vehicle adoption.’

She added: ‘It’s unfair that those who don’t live in areas with either free or low-cost charging are being discriminated against based on their address.

‘If this continues, we risk leaving a huge number of drivers behind in the transition to electric cars.’

The British Gas investigation comes after official figures released by the Government a week ago suggested a growing North-South divide in terms of charging availability.  

Records for 2021 showed that 7,600 new public charge points were installed last year, taking the total to 28,375 plug-in points across the country.

However, the data shows that London has benefitted from a much faster expansion of its charging infrastructure than any other region, with 102 devices per 100,000 of its population, while areas like the North West have just 24 per 100,000 people.

It also raised fresh concerns that infrastructure is failing to keep pace with the number of electric cars entering the road, with one new public device added for every 24 zero-emission vehicle registered last year.  

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