Amey Graduate Transport Planner wins prestigious Wolfson Economics Prize

14 July 2017
a man holding an award.
Contact the Press Office

A 27-year-old Graduate Transport Planner for Amey has won the 2017 Wolfson Economics Prize with a radical proposal to scrap fuel duty and vehicle excise duty and replace them with a distance-based tax that takes environmental impacts into consideration.

Gergely Raccuja won the £250,000 prize with his entry, entitled “Paying for road use could be Miles Better”, in response to the question ‘How can we pay for better, safer, more reliable roads in a way that is fair to road users and good for the economy and the environment?’ It beat four other shortlisted ideas in a competition judged by senior policymakers including the former Chancellor Lord Darling.

His proposal ensured that the lighter and cleaner your vehicle is, the lower the per mile charge. The new system would boost investment and update the way we run roads ready for a new generation of electric and autonomous vehicles.

Drivers wouldn’t be asked to pay more overall, paying in proportion to the distance they drive each year, he argued. The charge would be collected by insurers who already manage all data necessary for calculating the charge. When a driver pays their insurance, they’d also pay their ‘road bill’, thus avoiding issues of privacy and reducing administration costs.

The Office of Rail and Road would ensure drivers are guaranteed fair treatment by setting the base charge and ensuring a fair proportion of the proceeds are ring-fenced for spending on both local and national highways, pledging a “pothole-free Britain” within five years.

Gergely Raccuja was born in Budapest, Hungary and moved to the UK in 2011. He read Politics, Urban Planning and Italian at UCL, graduating in 2015 with First Class Honours. In January 2016, he started as a Graduate Transport Planner at Amey Consulting in Birmingham.

For his final submission Gergely received input from the RAC Foundation and went head to head with AA President Edmund King and his wife, the economist Deirdre King.

The 2017 Wolfson Economics prize, the third to be run, received over 120 entries from seven countries. It was 27-year-old Raccuja, however, who most impressed the team of judges, including former Chancellor Lord Darling, Chairman of Legal & General Sir John Kingman, economist Bridget Rosewell, former Deputy Mayor of London for Transport Isabel Dedring and The Times associate editor Lord Finkelstein to scoop the prestigious prize.

Gergely Raccuja said: “I’m over the moon, the past two months have been an incredible journey. I want to thank the judges for their support for Miles Better and the RAC Foundation and Amey for helping me improve the proposal. The key to our entry was to keep things simple, yet come up with an answer that was sophisticated enough to deal with an upheaval in cars and road transport which hasn’t been seen since the introduction of the motor car well over a century ago. I hope I can persuade our politicians too that everything to do with our roads could be better.”

Nicola Hindle, Managing Director for Consulting and Rail at Amey said: “The UK’s road network is the lifeblood of building sustainable communities and economies so there’s a real need to change the thinking around the way that the construction and maintenance of roads is paid for to maximise future investment in infrastructure. This is a challenge our teams face day-in, day-out. Gergely’s submission is beautifully straightforward, and yet it demonstrates radical new thinking on how we operate the UK’s road network. This is an incredible achievement for Gergely. We're incredibly proud of him.”

Director of the RAC Foundation Steve Gooding said: “To be involved in this winning entry has been a privilege, but the really crucial thing is what happens next. The common themes of several entries have been both the pressing need for change and the belief there is a better option to balance what drivers contribute to the finances of the country and what they get in return. Even if policy makers aren’t immediately persuaded by our arguments they know the clock is ticking for them to show they have got a plan that offers the country’s tens of millions of drivers a fair deal and keeps the country moving in increasingly challenging times.”

The founder of the Prize, Lord (Simon) Wolfson of Aspley Guise, said: “The 2017 Wolfson Economics Prize sought a better way to pay for better roads as congestion, pollution and potholes remain a source of daily misery for millions of people: undermining our economy, environment and quality of life. Gergely’s entry met that challenge, and is ground-breaking, yet simple – with the backing of a major motoring organisation. I would like to offer my warmest congratulations to Gergely and his contributors for their brilliant submission. Policymakers 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.”


Contact the
press office

+44 (0) 1865 713 240

Please note that the press office phone lines are for journalists and members of the press only, for any other enquiry, please use the general enquiry contacts.