Call To Make Cycle To Work Scheme More Accessible
The Cycle to Work scheme is designed to help with the cost of buying a bike or e-bike to use for commuting to work. There are a few different scheme providers which might have slightly different formats, but the basic premise is that an employer who is registered with a scheme pays for your chosen bike, and you pay them back in instalments.
The repayments are taken through payroll, so you don’t have to worry about setting up a direct debit, and they a spread over a minimum period of 12 months. As a bonus, the payments are taken from the gross salary before any tax and NI contributions are deducted, so by the time you’ve paid for the bike, you will have saved up to 32% of the cost.
The scheme was first introduced over 20 years ago, and is successfully used by over one million people. However, The Guardian reports that business and cycling groups are calling for the scheme to be reformed, so that lower-paid workers are given fair access. Currently, those on the minimum wage are excluded because of their tax band.
Now, British Cycling, the Co-op, and the Federation of Small Businesses, among others, have written to Chancellor Rishi Sunak to ask for a change in the rules, arguing that it is unfair to exclude those who could benefit the most by saving on the cost of using public transport.
The letter says: “The least well paid in our communities are feeling the effects of soaring inflation to a greater extent than those on higher wages, with the rising cost of commuting only adding to their concern. They often have no option to do their job from home and are forced to commute to a place of work.”
It goes on: “The cycle to work scheme has the potential to open up equitable access to cycling and provide a cost-effective solution for many workers within this group. The scheme is a proven mechanism at getting more people cycling, and we believe those on the lowest incomes should benefit too.”
Since the pandemic, cycling has become more popular than ever, with a 60% upsurge in the Cycle to Work scheme participation numbers, compared to 2019. Those close to the minimum wage are excluded because the repayments would take their monthly base salary below the minimum wage.
However, this does not take into account the savings made by workers who will not be using public transport for their daily commute, which could be significant, and may equal more than the monthly bike repayments. Self-employed workers are also excluded from applying.
The scheme was updated in 2019 to include e-bikes and accessories worth over £1000. An e-bike can make a journey much quicker, because they have an integrated motor which helps with pedal power, and they can reach speeds of up to 15.5mph. They are perfect for hilly areas, and for people who are less fit, or just want a boost of speed on their commute.
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