Enterprise and biking teams have urged the federal government to reform its cycle to work scheme so it may be utilized by lower-paid and self-employed staff, arguing they’re typically the individuals who want it probably the most.
Launched greater than 20 years in the past and since utilized by greater than one million folks, the scheme permits customers to pay for a bicycle and equipment in instalments taken from their wage on a tax-free foundation, thus saving them between 25% and 40%.
However longstanding guidelines imply it isn’t out there to folks incomes minimal wage, or near it, or who don’t pay tax on a pay-as-you-earn salaried foundation.
In a letter being despatched on Monday to the chancellor, Rishi Sunak, teams together with the Federation of Small Companies, the Co-op and British Biking, have referred to as for this to be modified, arguing that amid rising costs these on decrease incomes are most in want of the prospect to save cash on journey.
“The least effectively paid in our communities are feeling the results of hovering inflation to a higher extent than these on greater wages, with the rising value of commuting solely including to their concern,” the letter says.
“They typically don’t have any choice to do their job from dwelling and are compelled to commute to a place of business. The cycle to work scheme has the potential to open up equitable entry to biking and supply a cheap answer for a lot of staff inside this group. The scheme is a confirmed mechanism at getting extra folks biking, and we imagine these on the bottom incomes ought to profit too.”
People who find themselves self-employed represented greater than 13% of the UK labour market, the letter added, a proportion that was anticipated to develop, and have been additionally unfairly excluded, it added.
Information collected by the Cycle to Work Alliance, made up of the 5 greatest bike suppliers underneath the scheme, together with Halfords and Evans Cycles, exhibits it has turn out to be extra in demand due to altering journey patterns throughout the Covid disaster, particularly for key staff.
On the peak of the pandemic, from March to September 2020, alliance members recorded a 60% rise in folks utilizing the scheme in opposition to the identical interval in 2019, with even steeper will increase for workers from the London ambulance service and Metropolitan police.
Increasing the scope of the scheme would assist ship the federal government’s dedication to get extra folks biking, the letter argued, and to forestall post-Covid journey patterns from changing into extra car-dominated.
At present, the scheme doesn’t enable folks to enroll if the contributions from their wage for the bike would take them beneath the minimal wage, even when a swap to bike commuting may nonetheless imply a internet saving.
The alliance has pledged that if the change was made, retailers would guarantee candidates had correctly calculated the fee, and have been informed if their internet wage would now be beneath the minimal wage.
The change is backed by Labour. Gill Furniss, the shadow roads minister, mentioned: “There is no such thing as a path to net-zero with out inexperienced transport and it is important ministers do extra to encourage folks to cycle to work, improve entry and take-up of this in style scheme.”
Paul Caudwell, the well being wellbeing supervisor on the Co-op group, mentioned it was fallacious that lower-paid employees have been denied entry to the scheme: “I imagine that the laws should change to permit a wage sacrifice association to have the ability to scale back pay beneath the nationwide minimal wage. This may make the incentives for utilizing a wage sacrifice scheme extra equitable for all of our colleagues and improve take-up of our cycle to work scheme.”
The Treasury was contacted for remark.