E-bike and e-scooter retailer Pure Electric has launched a campaign calling on Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunaq to fund a £50 million-a-year scheme linked to the state pension that would allow over-65s to buy bikes or e-bikes at a 20 per cent discount.
The company, which operates from 17 stores across Great Britain – 11 of which it took over from Halfords’ former Bike Republic chain in April last year – likens the initiative, which it calls Cycle in Retirement, to the existing Cycle to Work salary sacrifice scheme which allows employees to effectively buy bikes at a discount through tax breaks.
The proposed scheme would be based on vouchers linked to the state pension, with a retired person choosing a bike or e-bike from a participating retailer, then applying for a voucher from the Department of Work and Pensions, which would recoup 80 per cent of the costs through pension deductions over the following two years.
Pure Electric says that enabling 1 million pensioners to buy a bike in that way over the next four years would entail a total cost of £200 million, based on an average spend of £1,000.
On a bike costing £1,000, we calculate that a pension would be reduced by less than £8 a week over the two-year period to meet the full cost of the bike.
Pure Electric contrasts the annual cost of £50 million with the £50 billion it says has been lost through the freezing of fuel duty over the past decade, and says that benefits would include people being more active and protecting the environment while also reducing the burden on the NHS.
The retailer says that around 6 million over-65s are believed to be physically inactive, which is estimated to cost the NHS £100 million-plus a year.
The company’s chief executive, Peter Kimberley, said: “Cycle to Work has been so successful over the past two decades, and now’s the perfect time, particularly given the new Lockdown, to build on that by targeting the 12 million over 65s who aren’t in work and can’t qualify for it.
“The pandemic has highlighted the benefits of regular exercise and cleaner air. We understand the Treasury is under considerable pressure, but this money might make the difference between the elderly deciding to stay in or taking up a new activity.
“It doesn’t seem fair that working age people have been able to access Government support to enjoy the benefits of cycling but retired people can’t. We’d love to see other bike retailers, sporting bodies, charities and MPs join with us and back this idea,” he added.
Citing government statistics from the National Travel Survey, Pure Electric says that less than one on four people aged 60 or over have a bicycle, compared to nearly half of those aged 40-49.
It added that it had carried out a poll which found that only 15 per cent of over-65s agree that the Government is doing enough to encourage cycling among pensioners, and that 78 per cent would back the Cycle in Retirement scheme.
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.