Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

Wolfson Prize Winner Has Earth-Friendly Solution for U.K. Roads

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  • 27-year-old Gergely Raccuja wins 2nd-largest economics prize
  • Suggests replacing fuel duty with distance-based charge

The youngest person to win the Wolfson Economics Prize says the solution to improving Britain’s roads lies with rewarding environmentally friendly drivers.

Gergely Raccuja, 27, was presented with the prize, the second-largest cash award in economics after the Nobel, on Thursday evening. Asked how to provide “better, safer, more reliable roads in a way that is fair to road users and good for the economy and the environment,” he proposed replacing fuel duty and vehicle excise duty with a simpler charge.

Drivers would pay in proportion to the distance they drive each year and the lighter and cleaner their vehicle, the lower the per-mile charge would be. The Office of Rail and Road would set a base charge to ensure the fair treatment of drivers and would spend the money on local and national highways to guarantee a pothole-free Britain within five years.

“Policy makers can learn much from this year’s prize, and I hope they will take forward solutions to solve one of the greatest infrastructure challenges of modern times,” said Simon Wolfson, the founder of the prize and chief executive officer of Next Plc. “I would like to offer my warmest congratulations to Gergely and his contributors.”

According to Raccuja, the proposal would help the Treasury, which is seeing income from fuel duty curtailed as Britons drive less and cars become more efficient. Among the judges were former Chancellor of the Exchequer Alistair Darling and Legal and General Chairman John Kingman.

Raccuja is Hungarian and graduated from University College London in 2015 with a degree in Politics, Urban Planning and Italian.

Notable past winners of the Wolfson Prize include Roger Bootle at Capital Economics, who won in 2012 for proposing a contingency plan for the breakup the euro.

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