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Cornwall Council Cycle2Work Scheme - What a laugh!!

ragged1100ragged1100 Posts: 147
edited August 2009 in Commuting chat
You'd think a County Council would be at the forefront of promoting alternative transport, namely cycling. My wife works as a teaching assistant - she get's paid peanuts and works really hard. I phoned up the council back in April to ask about their C2W scheme and was told they didn't have one, but it would be starting in May.

My wife is a very reluctant cyclist, but after hiring a bike a couple of times to do the Camel trail I finally persuaded her to get a bike to cycle the mile to school and back which she does 4 TIMES A DAY at the moment in a car.

So last week I phoned the council back again to see how their scheme worked.

"I'm sorry, that scheme was only open for a month as it was over subscribed" was the answer I got!!!!

If a council can't run a scheme to get their employees out of cars and onto bikes, what hope is there for companies that actually need to make a profit!!! My wife will now continue to drive to work !
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  • Sounds pretty poor. What does "over-subscribed mean?" Find a friend to put in an FoIA request asking if the council has a green travel plan, how many staff it employs, how it promoted C2W with its employers and how many signed up. You'd be surprised what a little bit of pressure can do
    Pain is only weakness leaving the body
  • ragged1100ragged1100 Posts: 147
    They told me "they had a limited pool of money for the scheme", I thought they just had to lend you the money and then claim the tax back from the treasury, how could it be limited? I now have two choices, wait till "sometime next year" when the open the scheme again, or add another £200 to my budget of £250 to get my wife a half decent hybridl. I haven't told her that the scheme is shut yet, she could well turn round and tell me we can't afford it (which we can't, I've gone back to Uni after packing in my job last April!)...I'm really angry, you won't belive the work I've had to put in to coonvince her to get on a bike in the first place!!!

    Ragged
    Gawton Gravity Hub - "England's best permanent downhill tracks"

    www.gawtongravityhub.co.uk
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  • RockhopperRockhopper Posts: 503
    The thing with C2W schemes is that the employer has to pay for the bike up front then get the money back each month from your salary. One placed local to me has 200 employees who have signed up - thats potentally £200k they have to find and not get back for 12 months (other tax breaks will help etc - but even so they need a large chunk of money to hand)
  • Slough Council also refuse to do it, despite encouraging other local businesses to join it. Despite having a person whose job it is to writ the staff travel plan.......


    Rockhopper:
    Mayn councils will save money on mileage- one of the most abused benefits at the council. over 40p a mile- many people rob the system. We're trying to encourage more people to cycle for work journeys too... and yet still no bike 2 work scheme.....
    ~I like to bike~
  • RockhopperRockhopper Posts: 503
    Good idea about cycling for work journeys - we can claim milage for that as well! Some companies however will not allow it on health and safety grounds....
  • symosymo Posts: 1,743
    Cornwall council don't care about the environment one bit, nevermind the eden project; they would pimp their own grannies if they thought it would bring in more tourists.
    +++++++++++++++++++++
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  • Aspman77Aspman77 Posts: 92
    We've got it at our work. Only open for one month but I and quite a few of the guys have signed up for it and we've all been approved.

    As of yet no one has got a voucher to actually collect a bike. I've been waiting nearly two weeks some guys from the 1st of the month when the scheme opened.

    I've a bike in a warehouse just sitting. The whole process is electronic except for the voucher. I see no need for the paper voucher, why can't the shop get an electronic conformation and then I pick the bike up with some photo id?

    Seems very wasteful and slow.
  • NGaleNGale Posts: 1,866
    Our scheme within South Western Ambulance is only open for one month and has a limit of £12,000 in the pot. essentially just 12 people can access it if you were to apply for the full amount.

    Ours also works on a first come first served basis, so I was lucky to have an understanding LBS who did the quotes in Janurary and when it was confirmed I had got onto the scheme they got the bike in and put it together. Even aftet that they stored it for a month before my voucher came through.

    Even after I finish paying for my bike in March I can't apply for the scheme until the following year, so if I am still with SWAST I will be reapplying to get myself a road bike or a cyclo cross bike (also my LBS will take a top up amount so if the amount is more than the C2W will allow they will price the bike at that for the paperwork and then I can pay the rest on top if I wish.)

    I think most companies have a limit on the amount of money they put into the scheme for simple ease of administration. But if it is any consolation Devon County Council are no better when it comes to the C2W scheme by all accounts.
    Officers don't run, it's undignified and panics the men
  • HeadhuunterHeadhuunter Posts: 6,494
    ragged1100 wrote:
    You'd think a County Council would be at the forefront of promoting alternative transport, namely cycling. My wife works as a teaching assistant - she get's paid peanuts and works really hard. I phoned up the council back in April to ask about their C2W scheme and was told they didn't have one, but it would be starting in May.

    My wife is a very reluctant cyclist, but after hiring a bike a couple of times to do the Camel trail I finally persuaded her to get a bike to cycle the mile to school and back which she does 4 TIMES A DAY at the moment in a car.

    So last week I phoned the council back again to see how their scheme worked.

    "I'm sorry, that scheme was only open for a month as it was over subscribed" was the answer I got!!!!

    If a council can't run a scheme to get their employees out of cars and onto bikes, what hope is there for companies that actually need to make a profit!!! My wife will now continue to drive to work !

    Unfortunately this follows the great tradition of ineptness in the public sector. I think in fact you're more likely to successfully sort out a new bike on a private companiy's C2W scheme. I suggested it to my bosses and it was sorted out by accounts very quickly and several people have since taken advantage.
    Do not write below this line. Office use only.
  • HeadhuunterHeadhuunter Posts: 6,494
    NGale wrote:
    Our scheme within South Western Ambulance is only open for one month and has a limit of £12,000 in the pot. essentially just 12 people can access it if you were to apply for the full amount.

    Ours also works on a first come first served basis, so I was lucky to have an understanding LBS who did the quotes in Janurary and when it was confirmed I had got onto the scheme they got the bike in and put it together. Even aftet that they stored it for a month before my voucher came through.

    Even after I finish paying for my bike in March I can't apply for the scheme until the following year, so if I am still with SWAST I will be reapplying to get myself a road bike or a cyclo cross bike (also my LBS will take a top up amount so if the amount is more than the C2W will allow they will price the bike at that for the paperwork and then I can pay the rest on top if I wish.)

    I think most companies have a limit on the amount of money they put into the scheme for simple ease of administration. But if it is any consolation Devon County Council are no better when it comes to the C2W scheme by all accounts.

    The thing is, the C2W scheme actually saves an employer money in employer paid NI contributions! As far as administration costs go, why don't they just go through a middle man like Cycloe Scheme? They do all the work and charge a percentage to the cycle retailer.
    Do not write below this line. Office use only.
  • PorgyPorgy Posts: 4,525
    [
    Unfortunately this follows the great tradition of ineptness in the public sector. I think in fact you're more likely to successfully sort out a new bike on a private companiy's C2W scheme. I suggested it to my bosses and it was sorted out by accounts very quickly and several people have since taken advantage.

    It's not ineptness it's not giving a sh1tness as practiced by the Tory/Liberal/Labour b*ll*ckheads who run our local councils

    It's be intersting to see if any level of ineptness exists in the running of Council expenses claims :evil:
  • NGaleNGale Posts: 1,866
    NGale wrote:
    Our scheme within South Western Ambulance is only open for one month and has a limit of £12,000 in the pot. essentially just 12 people can access it if you were to apply for the full amount.

    Ours also works on a first come first served basis, so I was lucky to have an understanding LBS who did the quotes in Janurary and when it was confirmed I had got onto the scheme they got the bike in and put it together. Even aftet that they stored it for a month before my voucher came through.

    Even after I finish paying for my bike in March I can't apply for the scheme until the following year, so if I am still with SWAST I will be reapplying to get myself a road bike or a cyclo cross bike (also my LBS will take a top up amount so if the amount is more than the C2W will allow they will price the bike at that for the paperwork and then I can pay the rest on top if I wish.)

    I think most companies have a limit on the amount of money they put into the scheme for simple ease of administration. But if it is any consolation Devon County Council are no better when it comes to the C2W scheme by all accounts.

    The thing is, the C2W scheme actually saves an employer money in employer paid NI contributions! As far as administration costs go, why don't they just go through a middle man like Cycloe Scheme? They do all the work and charge a percentage to the cycle retailer.

    Think about it, the SWAST area covers all employees from the Isles of Scilly up to Berrow in Somerset and the far side of Dorset...in essence the whole of the south west penisular. The think about the amount of people employed by the trust across that region, everyone from those working in the two control rooms, trust HQ, operational staff on the road, fleet mechanics the lot. it's alot of staff to deal with. Then think about the fact that just one member of staff has to administer the scheme. I can kind of understand why they keep it limited.

    Also being the NHS and a publically funded institution can you imagine the complaints that would be had if thousands of pounds was percieved to have been spent out of 'giving' staff new expensive bikes! remember the media dosen't let the truth get in the way of a good story.

    Our place also seems to roll any left over money onto the next year if there is a surplus, so this year 15 grand was avaliable. put it this way, 10 grand will be rolling over next year!
    Officers don't run, it's undignified and panics the men
  • MonkeypumpMonkeypump Posts: 1,528
    Since the C2W scheme is essentially a tax loophole, the government aren't keen to promote it too much for fear of lost income (eomplyee tax, employer tax, NI). IIRC the forces and NHS are inelligible.

    I accept it's a big chunk of cash for any company with lots of employees, but on top of other benefit/salary costs, up to £1k per employee doesn't seem that outrageous.
  • RockhopperRockhopper Posts: 503
    The Forces are indeed elligible to sign up for the scheme, however the powers that be won't do it for the reason i gave above, they simply don't have the pool of cash sitting around for the potentially huge number of people who might sign up.
    I believe the issue with the NHS is slightly more complex in that they can't recalim the VAT portion of the saving so the beneifts to the employee are not so great.
  • RockhopperRockhopper Posts: 503
    This is the offical line from the MOD

    "1. A common misconception is that the C2W scheme permits employees to purchase the bicycle tax free, this is not the case. The C2W scheme is a Tax-efficient bicycle loan arrangement which allows the employer to purchase cycling equipment which is then hired to the employees through Salary Sacrifice.

    2. Salary sacrifice schemes require an employee to contractually reduce the amount of their Gross salary in exchange for a non-cash benefit. Non-cash benefits may still be taxable unless there is a specific HMRC exemption. For the C2W Scheme this tax exemption has been granted, but only applies if all the following HM Revenue and Customs conditions are met:

    a. Employees use the equipment mainly for qualifying journeys (i.e. for journeys made between the employee’s home and workplace, or for journeys between one workplace and another) - that means it cannot be used for your own enjoyment/racing/training it is service equipment.

    b. Ownership of the equipment is not transferred to the employee during the loan period.

    3. In addition to these specific conditions for the C2WScheme, it is a HMRC stipulation for all Salary Sacrifice schemes that, in order to comply with Tax Legislation, the employee’s contractual right to cash pay must reduce. Therefore salary sacrifice may have an impact on other pay-related benefits such as Maternity Pay, Working Tax Credits or Final Salary-linked pensions. Additionally HMRC states that the employer must not simply meet the employee’s own financial commitments or apply cash remuneration on their behalf.

    4. In addition to the HMRC conditions which are central to the implementation of the C2W scheme, there are a number of other impacts which must be considered.

    a. Capital Expenditure. As it is the employer and not the employee who purchases and owns the cycling equipment, it is MOD who would fund the initial outlay of Capital Expenditure (although this will be recovered from individuals over the duration of hire period). These costs are dependent on uptake of the scheme. However it is possible that each individual could procure equipment up to £1,000 in value . On this basis, an annual take up of 2,000 people would involve in year outlay of £2million.

    b. Contract Tender and competition process. The total value of the business would exceed the EU threshold for advertising of the contract (circa £100K). This would require a full Contract Tender process with associated manpower and expertise requirements and costs. The duration of the process from writing of business requirement to signing contract could be in excess of 18 months.

    c. Management and Audit. To operate a purchase, hire and disposal system will have a sustained requirement for management, audit and HR/pay action. This creates additional management overhead costs and headcount.

    d. Consumer Credit Act (CCA) 1974. There should be no automatic entitlement for the employee to take ownership of the cycle equipment at the end of the loan period . If after the end of the loan agreement the bike is offered for sale, the employee must pay a “fair market value. ” If this is recovered from pay it must be from Net Salary. VAT must also be paid on the purchase price. This specific restrictions in the CCA complicates the issues surrounding the sale/disposal of bikes (eg what is the mechanism for valuation, should this be conducted by Disposals Services Agency).

    e. Impact on existing allowances. Non-taxable benefits cannot be double paid for the same purpose. MOD currently enjoys a specific tax exemption from HMRC allowing the payment of a tax free allowance for commuting journeys. This takes the form of the Home to Duty Travel Allowance (HDT) which includes Motor Vehicle and Cycle rates or payment. HDT travel (Cycle Rate) contributes to the cost of owning, running and maintaining a bike. HDT travel could not be paid in conjunction with the Cycle Scheme as the scheme requires that at least 50% of the journeys on the bike must be qualifying journeys for work purposes."
  • rolf_frolf_f Posts: 16,015
    Rockhopper wrote:
    a. Employees use the equipment mainly for qualifying journeys (i.e. for journeys made between the employee’s home and workplace, or for journeys between one workplace and another) - that means it cannot be used for your own enjoyment/racing/training it is service equipment.

    b. Contract Tender and competition process. The total value of the business would exceed the EU threshold for advertising of the contract (circa £100K). This would require a full Contract Tender process with associated manpower and expertise requirements and costs. The duration of the process from writing of business requirement to signing contract could be in excess of 18 months.

    Well there is some censored in there for a start. The use of equipment is certainly wrong in the point a) above - all that is required is that at least 50% of travel to work journeys are undertaken on the bike. The rules (irrc) say nothing about what you do with the bike at other times.

    Secondly (sticking up for the public sector here!) - our scheme (Environment Agency) is very well run and the costs are certainly way over 100k yet I don't recally any 18 month set up periods. Basically, 100 bikes = 100k so that would imply that any decent sized company would be caught in a beaurocracy mire if what the Ministry of Incompetence suggests is true.
    Faster than a tent.......
  • NGaleNGale Posts: 1,866
    Monkeypump wrote:
    Since the C2W scheme is essentially a tax loophole, the government aren't keen to promote it too much for fear of lost income (eomplyee tax, employer tax, NI). IIRC the forces and NHS are inelligible.

    I accept it's a big chunk of cash for any company with lots of employees, but on top of other benefit/salary costs, up to £1k per employee doesn't seem that outrageous.

    Errrrm I work for the NHS and got my bike through C2W. My partner is a member of HM forces and got his brompton through C2W so we are more then eligable for the scheme
    Officers don't run, it's undignified and panics the men
  • UnderscoreUnderscore Posts: 730
    Rolf F wrote:
    all that is required is that at least 50% of travel to work journeys are undertaken on the bike. The rules (irrc) say nothing about what you do with the bike at other times.

    Actually, no, they were right when they said (emphasis mine):
    Employees use the equipment mainly for qualifying journeys (i.e. for journeys made between the employee's home and workplace, or for journeys between one workplace and another)
    where they were totally wrong was in adding:
    that means it cannot be used for your own enjoyment/racing/training
    'Mainly' means just that; provided you use the bike more for commuting than for other purposes, you are within the rules.

    _
  • HeadhuunterHeadhuunter Posts: 6,494
    As far as is understood by my company, there is absolutely nothing in the wording of the original government C2W scheme that obliges you to use the bike for commuting. Although obviously that's what the scheme is designed for.
    Do not write below this line. Office use only.
  • UnderscoreUnderscore Posts: 730
    As far as is understood by my company, there is absolutely nothing in the wording of the original government C2W scheme that obliges you to use the bike for commuting. Although obviously that's what the scheme is designed for.

    From the DFT website:
    The tax exemption only applies when an employee mainly uses the cycle and cyclists' safety equipment for qualifying journeys. A qualifying journey for an employee means a journey, or part of a journey,

    * between his or her home and workplace, or
    * between one workplace and another,

    in connection with the performance of their duties of employment. So, for example, cycling to and from the station to get to work would qualify. [In this case, 'mainly' means that more than 50% of time using the cycle and safety equipment must involve a qualifying journey.
    _
  • RockhopperRockhopper Posts: 503
    Underscore wrote:
    Rolf F wrote:
    all that is required is that at least 50% of travel to work journeys are undertaken on the bike. The rules (irrc) say nothing about what you do with the bike at other times.

    Actually, no, they were right when they said (emphasis mine):
    Employees use the equipment mainly for qualifying journeys (i.e. for journeys made between the employee's home and workplace, or for journeys between one workplace and another)
    where they were totally wrong was in adding:
    that means it cannot be used for your own enjoyment/racing/training
    'Mainly' means just that; provided you use the bike more for commuting than for other purposes, you are within the rules.

    _

    The MOD could quite rightly say that as they own the bike untill ownership is transfered to you at the end of the hire period so they get to say what you do with it. I'm afraid thats the way the Army tends to work these days!!
  • Rockhopper wrote:
    Underscore wrote:
    Rolf F wrote:
    all that is required is that at least 50% of travel to work journeys are undertaken on the bike. The rules (irrc) say nothing about what you do with the bike at other times.

    Actually, no, they were right when they said (emphasis mine):
    Employees use the equipment mainly for qualifying journeys (i.e. for journeys made between the employee's home and workplace, or for journeys between one workplace and another)
    where they were totally wrong was in adding:
    that means it cannot be used for your own enjoyment/racing/training
    'Mainly' means just that; provided you use the bike more for commuting than for other purposes, you are within the rules.

    _

    The MOD could quite rightly say that as they own the bike untill ownership is transfered to you at the end of the hire period so they get to say what you do with it. I'm afraid thats the way the Army tends to work these days!!

    That is true - but it would have to say that this is MOD policy rather than trying to claim that it is a requirement of the C2W scheme or part of HMRC guidance. What it is currently doing is distorting existing guidance. It is free to make whatever restrictions it wants - it could insist on mandatory training, wearing of helmets etc - but it has to say it is MOD policy.
    Pain is only weakness leaving the body
  • il_principeil_principe Posts: 9,152
    ragged1100 wrote:

    If a council can't run a scheme to get their employees out of cars and onto bikes, what hope is there for companies that actually need to make a profit!!! My wife will now continue to drive to work !

    Probably a lot more hope as many profit making firms are rather well run. Unlike many local councils and Govt departments...
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  • jay1lkjay1lk Posts: 2
    To be fair to Cornwall Council I know of probably 10 people that have managed to use the scheme. According to the local bike shops around here there was quite a large Council uptake during the June qualifying period.

    There is possibly going to be another period available later in the year.
  • rolf_frolf_f Posts: 16,015
    Underscore wrote:
    Rolf F wrote:
    all that is required is that at least 50% of travel to work journeys are undertaken on the bike. The rules (irrc) say nothing about what you do with the bike at other times.

    Actually, no, they were right when they said (emphasis mine):
    Employees use the equipment mainly for qualifying journeys (i.e. for journeys made between the employee's home and workplace, or for journeys between one workplace and another)

    Shows how crappy the wording is - I always assumed it meant that more than half your journeys to work should be made on the bike (which seems sensible). What they actually mean is that you could use the bike once to cycle to work over the year and as long as you didn't make any other trip longer than that, then it would be fine. Which is

    a) ridiculous and
    b) completely unenforceable (whereas what I assumed could at least in theory be checked up on).
    Faster than a tent.......
  • . . . at least you have such programs. AFAIK, we don't have any on this side of the Millpond.
  • essexianessexian Posts: 187
    I thought you might like this..... I applied for a voucher on the 4th August and was told by my friendly LBS (Fred Williams in Wolverhampton) that it would take a couple of weeks/ a month to arrive. No worries there as it gives me some time to lose some more weight before the bike arrives: its not due in the UK until Sept/Oct.

    No sign of the voucher yet but I get my pay statement yesterday which shows the amount of the loan is being deducted already :?

    I don't mind paying for the bike, but I would like to be able to ride it whilst paying for it!

    Oh, one final thing, I am a home worker so don't really ride to work. I do ride to the station and to some of the local offices I audit. This doesn't seem to be a problem for my employer.
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