The new tax year offers the ideal opportunity to give your fleet policy a thorough overhaul. Our reporter has a few suggestions
April will see the introduction of a number of significant changes that
affect the way fleets operate, which makes it an ideal time to give your fleet
strategy a wax and polish.
There are lots of issues that need to be considered to ensure your fleet is
running as efficiently and safely as possible, so a few days spent simply
considering the following issues and how they affect you could pay dividends
throughout the next year.
This isn’t the most exciting way to start a review of your fleet, but it may
be the most effective. One of the most important issues is the new 10%
benefit-in-kind tax band for company cars producing 120g/km of CO2 or less from
the new tax year. This year’s Budget also revealed a reform of car vehicle
excise duty rates and bandings, introducing new bands from 2009, which allow
drivers of the cleanest cars to pay no tax in the first year.
There will be higher first year rates in 2010-11 to influence purchasing
choices. Capital allowances will also be reformed to base them on emissions.
Choose the greenest cars for your staff and you have a recipe to slash driver’s
tax bills and the company’s Class 1A NICs at the same time.
Taxation information: hmrc.gov.uk/cars
Now is an ideal time to review your fleet list. Do employees have access to
the low emission cars that will slash their tax bills referred to above?
Approach manufacturers and ask them to list the models that might help. With
safety in mind, review the latest safety ratings from the European New Car
Assessment Programme to ensure you aren’t providing drivers with vehicles that
won’t perform well in an accident. Try to get behind the wheel at events such as
Company Car in Action so you can give your drivers a considered opinion.
Company Car in Action:
The new tax year coincides with the launch of the new Corporate Manslaughter
Act. Review your fleet safety policy and accident rate and benchmark these
against other companies using services such as the one provided by interactive
Ask suppliers to provide information about their risk management services and
whether they will provide a free fleet review. Make it a priority to review how
your fleet meets the standards set down in the Department for Transport/Health
and Safety Executive Driving At Work Guide.
Managing work-related road safety:
Drivers are your biggest liability so ensure you have accurate records and
information that can help you manage them effectively. Ensure driving licence
checks are up to date and consider how you will assess the risks facing your
drivers on the road over the next year. Use your review to draw up a
communication plan for the next 12 months targeting the areas where drivers face
the highest risks, according to your own figures on accidents.
Consider introducing a fleet ‘driving licence’ which is only issued if key
checks on drivers have been carried out. Make it a priority to find out how many
drivers are covering business mileage in private vehicles and ensure you have
documentation for each employee and for their vehicles, including driving
licence, insurance, MoT information and a record of servicing.
Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents:
What is your fleet costing and how much are you really paying for it? Ask
potential suppliers to submit data showing what they would charge to provide
your fleet and make use of free running cost benchmarking services. Ensure that
in working out the actual cost of your vehicles, you include tax costs in your
equation for both the employee and the company, as these are a significant
expense but are often ignored in cost comparisons.
Free running costs database:
Often overlooked by drivers and employers, the tyres you choose and how you
look after them make a difference to everything from ride comfort and noise to
braking distances, cornering and even fuel economy. 20% of a car’s fuel
consumption is caused by tyres. Under-inflation increases braking distances and
increases fuel consumption.
Consider introducing office car park tyre checks for all vehicles through major
providers such as Kwik-Fit Fleet or ATS Euromaster. Also, ensure you encourage
regular tyre checks by drivers by explaining the safety and fuel economy
benefits of taking good care of their rubber.
Advice on tyre safety:
Every year, thousands of business drivers break down because of their
ignorance of basic vehicle checks. Consider introducing a reminder on claim
forms for business mileage, which tells drivers what they should be checking and
at what intervals. Provide drivers with glovebox guides that they can refer to
and make advice available over the office intranet. Ensure your procedures
clearly show when a vehicle is next due a service and list the work carried out.
Vehicle maintenance advice:
How much time are your drivers losing in congestion every day? Consider
sending out a survey to every driver and assess what congestion is costing them
in time, and your business in lost productivity. Provide drivers with the tools
and information to check traffic routes before they set off and encourage them
to think about how they make their journey. If you have drivers entering the
congestion charging zone, make sure you are registered for a fleet account to
avoid unexpected penalty notices for non-payment of fines.
Live traffic information:
Modern technology can improve safety, but some of it can also be a liability,
so it pays to be clear on what is fitted to vehicles. For example, anti-skid
control or electronic stability control are essential devices that can prevent a
vehicle from flying out of control during emergency manoeuvres. There is a
European campaign calling for ESC’s to be standard in to all cars. By contrast,
many companies are now reviewing their approach to hands-free phone kits in cars
as there is clear evidence that drivers find talking on a hands-free phone just
as distracting as talking on a hand-held one.
View the campaign at
With fuel prices continuing to rise, a 2p a litre rise due in October and
steady inflation duty rises promised from 2010, it will pay to plan ahead to
ensure your budgets can cope with the changes ahead. You also need to review how
to use less fuel and also how you are paying staff to cover their costs. Many
companies use pence per mile fuel rates to reimburse their staff, but it could
pay to introduce fuel cards to enable effective management of actual business
fuel costs. It could also be beneficial to invest in fuel economy training for
staff. To help limit the impact of fuel use on the environment, investigate
Free advice on carbon cutting:
Free green fleet advice: