Latest figures show that Transport for London has received 19,594 applications but has accepted 8,132 and paid out only on 6,854.
This means that only a third of requests to date have been successful, though this is expected to increase to about half.
One motorist who had a request to scrap a 2004 BMW 5-series diesel car rejected five times suddenly had it approved on Wednesday afternoon, hours after The Standard asked TfL about his case.
His application for the £2,000 scrappage payment had descended into farce when TfL took so long that the car’s MoT expired – which then invalidated the application.
Marcin, 36, an out-of-work hotel manager, who asked for his surname not to be published, first applied in July but the first request was dismissed due to a lack of paperwork.
He tried to send additional paperwork by email but this sparked another rejection as TfL said it would not accept documents sent separately by email. The application was rejected for a fifth time because the car’s MoT had expired.
Marcin, who lives inside the expanded zone near Brent Cross, feared he would have to sell his car rather than scrap it, though he recognised this would be more harmful for the environment. He says he needs a car to take his daughter to and from her mother’s house in Watford.
He told The Standard on Wednesday night: “Thank you so much for your help. At the end I’m happy now I can scrap this one and get something else that will comply with the Ulez rules.”
He said he had to wait at least 10 working days for each request to receive a response – and complained that TfL failed to highlight all problems with his application at the same time.
“Each time I applied there was something different wrong,” he said. “It’s been nearly three months that I’ve been trying to get this approved. The whole process is really bad. It’s really annoying and frustrating.”
TfL told him: “We apologise for our inconvenience cause by the system.”
The £12.50-a-day Ulez expands to the inner boundaries of the North and South Circular roads in 11 days, on October 25.
But the latest TfL data, which was obtained by the GLA Conservatives, shows that an average of only 26 payments a day have been made in the seven weeks to September 20.
The scrappage scheme, which offers £1,000 for a motorbike or £2,000 for a car, is open to Londoners on income benefits or disability payments. TfL said £13.1m had been allocated so far.
A total scrappage fund of £61m, also available to non-compliant vans, HGVs and charity minibuses, has been set aside by Sadiq Khan, though the HGV and van schemes closed last year after being over-subscribed. About 138,000 cars, vans and lorries face having to pay the charge each day.
Peter Fortune, deputy leader of the GLA Conservatives, who plans to raise the matter at Mayor’s question time on Thursday, said: “The Mayor’s scrappage scheme is clearly running low on cash. If it hasn’t run out already, it will only be a matter of days until it’s suspended, leaving struggling Londoners with no help as Ulez expands.
“With the price of second-hand cars soaring, few Londoners can afford to switch their vehicle without help.
“I urge the Mayor to keep this scrappage scheme open by investing £50 million from City Hall’s business rate reserve. That’s enough to help Londoners scrap 25,000 dirty cars.”
Paul Cowperthwaite, TfL’s General Manager of Road User Charging, said: “We apologise for the experience [Marcin] has had in trying to obtain support for scrapping his vehicle. It is important that where significant sums of public money are being spent we ensure all applications meet the requirements of the scheme. We are now able to process [Marcin’s] application and are looking at how we can further streamline our processes.
“The expansion of the Ultra Low Emission Zone is vital in tackling London’s toxic air crisis. It will reduce harmful Nitrogen Dioxide across the whole city by around 30 per cent.
“We know that businesses, charities and people on low incomes need support to switch to greener vehicles, which is why the Mayor introduced a £60m scrappage scheme. So far, 12,000 vehicles have been taken off the road or retrofitted. We are working to pay the grants to successful applicants as quickly as possible and are sorry where there have been delays.”