Cycling Minister Michael Ellis has announced a revamp of Cycle to Work schemes, with new guidance released today by the Department of Transport making it far easier for employers to offer bikes worth over £1,000.
Information has been drip-fed to us all week from various sources, with a rather ambiguous press release from the Department for Transport appearing on the gov.uk website on Sunday titled "Government ushers in new era of green commutes with e-bike Cycle to Work scheme" - covered on our sister site eBikeTips.
The gist of it was that the updated guidance will allow for the purchase of e-bikes and modified bikes for the less able to join the scheme if their employer offers it: "Push to increase use of e-bikes to help tackle congestion, speed up commutes and cut travel costs coincides with the launch of Bike Week", so it says... although if you read between the lines, this does mean (again subject to whether your employer is signed up to a Cycle to Work scheme), that now any bike is fair game.
Cycle to Work schemes operate on a salary sacrifice basis, with employees 'loaning' a bike off their employer tax-free, initially for a year. You can then extend the loan and eventually buy it at a nominal price calculated factoring in the bike's depreciated value over time - after five years, this will be almost nothing as HMRC consider the bike to be of 'negligible' value.
Michael Ellis, the government's new Cycling Minister, has said that there never officially was a £1,000 limit for larger employers who are registered with the Financial Conduct Authority - although many would argue that information wasn't exactly public knowledge. Now though, the refreshed guidance will allow non FCA-approved employers to offer more expensive bikes so long as the provider is: "As e-bikes are more often than not over £1,000, the refreshed Cycle to Work will make it easier for employers to offer e-bikes on the scheme by making it clear that FCA-authorised providers are able to run the scheme on their behalf."
Here's our response to the newly updated Cycle to Work Scheme guidance from the Department for Transport.
— Green Commute UK (@greencommuteuk) June 12, 2019
The Green Commute Initiative is one such cycle scheme that has offered bikes with no £1,000 limit since 2016, and although they expressed frustration at lack of support from some "organisations that you would have thought wanted to encourage cycling" in their tweet above, they have welcomed the changes.
Cycle to Work Alliance Chairman Adrian Warren said of the updates: “We are delighted the new Cycle to Work Scheme guidance has today been published.
“Cycling to work has extraordinary benefits for the environment, our health and wellbeing, and employer-employee relations, and today’s publication represents a significant step forward in getting more people physically active as part of the government’s ambitions to double cycling activity by 2025."
Cycling UK's Matt Mallinder praised the decision, but wants the scheme extending to those out of work such as the elderly and the disabled: “Electric cycles are great way to boost cycle use, reducing congestion, pollution and carbon emissions, allowing people to make journeys that are a bit longer or hillier than they’d otherwise want to cycle.
"Cycling UK hopes the Government’s support will also encourage people who are older, frailer or a bit overweight to discover that they too can enjoy the benefits of cycling for their health, wealth and well-being, and that similar support can soon be offered for those who are not in work too.”
Today Cyclescheme will be releasing information to employers and retailers on the new guidance, and of course we'll be updating our Cycle to Work scheme guides so you know how to get the most out of the system. What's on your shopping list?
After cobbling together a few hundred quid during his student days off the back of a hard winter selling hats (long story), Jack bought his first road bike at the age of 20 and has been hooked ever since. He was Staff Writer at 220 Triathlon magazine for two years before joining road.cc in 2017, and reports on all things tech as well as editing the road.cc live blog. He is also the news editor of our electric-powered sister site eBikeTips. Jack's preferred events are time trials, sportives, triathlons and pogo sticking (the latter being another long story), and on Sunday afternoons he can often be found on an M5 service station indulging in his favourite post-race meal of 20 chicken nuggets, a sausage roll, caramel shortbread and a large strawberry milkshake.