The Cycle to Work Alliance and the Association of Cycle Traders have identified common areas of interest around Cycle to Work reform. Both parties are committed to working together to drive forward positive change opening up Cycle to Work to more people and to grow the cycle market for all.

The Cycle to Work Alliance and Association of Cycle Traders held positive and productive discussions on the contribution of the scheme, the views of independent bike retailers and the collective support for reform.

Both organisations are united in recognising that the scheme plays an important role in the cycle market which has faced a challenging time following the pandemic. Improving and growing the market to support retailers, scheme providers and prospective cyclists is what collectively drives us and our priorities for reform.

As we look to the next 25 years of the Cycle to Work Scheme, we want to go further to break down barriers to cycle commuting by:

  1. Unlocking the scheme for those on low incomes, National Minimum Wage and the self-employed to ensure equitable access to cycling.
  2. Working with the government and industry to simplify and minimise administrative barriers, making it easy and attractive for organisations to offer and employees to utilise the scheme.

The Cycle to Work Alliance and its individual members will continue to engage with the Association of Cycle Traders on the experience of independent bike retailers to ensure the scheme works for everyone. The Alliance and Association of Cycle Traders are committed to working together in our shared interests and look forward to ongoing discussions about the scheme, its contribution and how it can be taken forward for all.

Chris Last, Chair of the Cycle to Work Alliance

Jonathan Harrison, Director of the Association of Cycle Traders

Following the publication of the Government’s Plan for Drivers this week, the Alliance has responded urging policymakers to lower the barriers to cycling and ensure everyone can choose the best way to travel for them:

“The public should be able to choose the best way to travel around for them, but too often barriers, including safety, security and confidence, prevent many people from considering cycling. Local government should be supported to lower those hurdles to ensure as many people as possible can cycle if they want to.

Cycling is a fantastic method of transport, including for getting to and from work, for millions of people across the country. Not only are increased rates of cycling better for local air quality and an easy way of increasing physical activity for a range of health benefits, but cycling is nearly always far cheaper than the alternatives.

The Cycle to Work Alliance believes that cycling should be for everyone and the support provided to achieve this is essential. Government has a critical role to play and should focus on working with authorities to remove barriers in the way of potential cyclists.”

“As Chair of the Cycle to Work Alliance, I am delighted to celebrate the 12th anniversary of ‘Cycle to Work Day’ and reflect on the important role the Cycle to Work Scheme has played in driving positive behaviour change in modal shift.

For nearly 25 years, the Cycle to Work Scheme has been a proven catalyst in encouraging cycling activity among employees, enabling them to save up to 42% on the cost of a new bike and significantly reduce their annual commuting expenses.

Amidst the dual cost-of-living and climate crises,  finding a low-cost,  clean and active commute to work has never been so important, with uptake in the Cycle to Work Scheme surging by over 10% in the first half of 2023 compared to 2022.” – Chris Last, Chair of the Cycle to Work Alliance

 

The Cycle to Work Alliance is thrilled to announce the appointment of Chris Last as its new Chair, marking a momentous occasion as the Cycle to Work Scheme celebrates its 25th year.

Chris, an ardent advocate for greener and healthier commuting options, brings a wealth of experience in the employee benefit industry and a lifelong passion for cycling. Hailing from a mining town in the Swansea Valleys, Chris developed a love for cycling at a young age. In the mid-90s, he championed cycling to work with his daily paper rounds on his trusted Raleigh Activator, equipped with front shock absorbers. His dedication to cycling continued throughout his life and in his current role as Commercial and Strategy Director at wellbeing and employee benefits provider, Vivup.

Chris firmly believes in the power of sustainable and inclusive employee benefits, with a strong emphasis on promoting a Cycle to Work scheme that provides affordable travel alternatives and encourages a healthier lifestyle. His vision aligns perfectly with the Alliance’s mission of fostering a greener and more active workforce while supporting businesses in implementing sustainable commuting solutions.

Commenting on his new role, Chris said, “My objectives in this role are simple. I want every business in the UK to offer a Cycle to Work Scheme, increase participation, and I want to remove the barriers stopping people from cycling to work regularly, which include secure storage in towns and cities and improved infrastructure that enables safer cycling between destinations.”

As we celebrate a landmark 25 years of the Cycle to Work Scheme, the Alliance has made significant headway in recent years, advocating for the benefits of cycle commuting and helping over 2 million people access affordable, green, and active travel.

In the year ahead, the Alliance wants to continue building on recent successes by widening access to the scheme and growing its relevance and impact among policymakers. This will include forging new partnerships across the sustainable travel industry and positioning cycle commuting as one of the best methods for employees getting to and from work.

The Cycle to Work Alliance expresses its gratitude to outgoing Chair, Adrian Warren, Blackhawk Network, and extends its warmest welcome to Chris Last, confident that under his leadership, the Alliance will continue to advance its mission and positively impact the lives of employees, businesses and the planet.

Business groups and cycling advocates have joined forces to call for an expansion to the popular Cycle to Work scheme, which would unlock access for workers earning at or near national minimum wage (NMW) and the self-employed. The call, which has been sent to the Chancellor, has been backed by groups including the Co-Op, Federation of Small Businesses and British Cycling.

The Cycle to Work scheme is already a hugely popular and highly effective initiative, and millions of people have participated to benefit from substantial savings on the cost of a new bike and cycling equipment, as well as the ability to pay the cost off over a longer period. However, the scheme guidance in place and rules around NMW currently prevent the self-employed and those on low incomes from participating. This locks out millions of potential users, including many who would have among the most to gain from joining.

A survey undertaken by the Cycle to Work Alliance in 2021 found that a third of employees who had not previously participated in the scheme said this was because their income was too low, which prevented them from participating. A further 1 in 10 of these said it was because they were self-employed, meaning they could not access the scheme.

Paul Caudwell, Health Wellbeing Manager at the Co-operative Group, said:

“We’re Co-operating for a fairer world which includes doing what we can to make things fairer for our colleagues. The current legislation surrounding cycle to work schemes prevents us from giving our lower-paid keyworker colleagues access the same level of financial incentive, using a salary sacrifice arrangement, to use our cycle to work scheme. I believe that the legislation must change to allow a salary sacrifice arrangement to be able to reduce pay below the National Minimum Wage. This would make the incentives for using a salary sacrifice scheme more equitable for all of our colleagues and increase take-up of our cycle to work scheme.”

The changes have also received backing from Labour’s shadow ministerial team. Gill Furniss MP, Shadow Roads Minister, has voiced her and the Labour Party’s support for the changes to the Cycle to Work scheme. She writes:

“The Cycle to Work scheme has been shown to make bikes more affordable and accessible to a wide range of people. They have a proven track record of encouraging those who have not cycled before to take up active travel. This delivers such a wide range of benefits, including improving people’s physical and mental health, improving air quality and easing congestion on our roads. There is no path to net-zero without green transport and it is vital Ministers do more to encourage people to cycle to work, increase access and take-up of this popular scheme.”

During the pandemic, the scheme played a particularly important role in getting more people cycling to work.

  • Between March and September 2020, Alliance members saw an increase of nearly 60% in new scheme joiners compared to the same period in 2019.
  • The scheme has been played a key role for key workers in particular throughout the pandemic. In the capital alone, London Ambulance Service saw a 111% increase in new scheme participants in 2020 from the previous year. New scheme joiners were also up 67% in the Metropolitan Police, and 47% among Transport for London’s (TfL) workforce.

The Alliance – formed of the five largest providers of the Cycle to Work Scheme (Cyclescheme, Cycle Solutions, Evans Cycles, Halfords and Vivup) – published its policy report in 2021, which highlighted why changes to the scheme were needed to open it up to lower earners and the self-employed.

As part of steps to protect workers who opt to take their pay below NMW by joining the scheme, Alliance members will introduce a series of ‘safeguarding mechanisms’ to ensure the process remains clear and transparent. Safeguards include integrating cost calculators within the application process and a verification step to the application process, requiring applicants to confirm they have used the cost calculator and are aware that salary sacrifice payments could bring them below NMW.

The letter, coordinated by the Cycle to Work Scheme Alliance, has been sent to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, with Trudy Harrison MP, Cycling Minister at the DfT, Paul Scully MP, Minister at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and Lucy Frazer MP, Financial Secretary to the Treasury, in copy. The full list of signatories includes: British Cycling, Chartered Institute of Payroll Professionals, Co-operative Group, Cycling UK, Federation of Small Businesses, Forum of Private Business, The Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed, and the Cycle to Work Scheme Alliance.

For information please contact: Kathryn Evans ([email protected] or 07715 644547).

Notes:

  1. The Cycle to Work Alliance is a policy-focused coalition of the five largest providers of the Cycle to Work scheme: Cyclescheme, Cycle Solutions, Evans Cycles, Halfords and Vivup. Together, we represent around 80% of the Cycle to Work scheme market and since 2010, we have worked hard collaboratively to highlight the benefits of regularly cycling to work.
  2. The data referenced was collected in a survey conducted by the Cycle to Work Alliance in May 2021, using a representative sample of 1,033 UK adults who are in employment.

A new report published today by the Cycle to Work Alliance, made up of the five largest providers of the Cycle to Work Scheme, is calling on the government to widen access to the scheme.

The Cycle to Work scheme has encouraged hundreds of thousands more people to cycle to work every day, with significant benefits for the environment, wellbeing, road congestion, and workplace productivity.

Over the course of the pandemic, the scheme has played a critical role in helping key workers to safely commute to work.

As employees across the country return to the office, cycling will be a healthier, safer, and more cost-effective option for many. The Alliance wants to ensure as much of the UK workforce can benefit from cycling to work and a regular active commute.

The new report urges the government to widen access to the scheme to ensure it is accessible for as many people as possible.

(PDF 2.34 MB)

  • Lower earners are among the hardest impacted by constant increases in public transport fares and so have most to gain from the scheme. Yet National Minimum Wage rules mean that employers cannot enter workers into salary sacrifice arrangements that bring their pay below NMW.
  • Another key group currently unable to benefit is the self-employed, who make up a significant part of the country’s workforce. Often, they are doing many of the same jobs as PAYE employees and still need to travel to a place of work.
  • SMEs, whilst currently able to participate, have historically been put off by a perceived burden associated with running the scheme. This outdated myth all too often prevents small businesses and their staff from reaping the full rewards of active commuting through the Cycle to Work scheme.

The report lays out three recommendations for the government to broaden access to these three key groups of the UK workforce.

  1. HMRC should include the cost of a bike as an allowable expense on self-employed workers’ self-assessment, to ensure all workers can participate regardless of their employment status.
  2. Government should introduce a specific exemption for the Cycle to Work scheme, allowing employers to enter staff into a salary sacrifice arrangement for the specific purpose of obtaining a bike and safety accessories through the scheme, even if it brings their take-home pay below NMW.
  3. All stakeholders with an interest in the scheme, including government, the small business community, and the Alliance, should work together to understand the barriers to participation for small businesses, and the practical steps that can be taken to increase participation.

Adrian Warren, Chair, Cycle to Work Alliance says:

 

“As the UK workforce makes a tentative return to the office, cycling will be an even more attractive means of commuting post-pandemic. The benefits of cycling are far-reaching, not just for employees’ mental and physical health, but also for the environment and UK productivity. By making a few small changes to the scheme’s current rules, millions more people would be able to access it, encouraging a greater culture of active, carbon-free commuting across the UK.”

Notes to editors:

  1. The Cycle to Work Alliance is a policy-focused coalition of the five largest providers of the Cycle to Work scheme: Cyclescheme, Cycle Solutions, Evans Cycles, Halfords, and Vivup. Together, we represent around 80% of the Cycle to Work scheme market and since 2010, we have worked hard collaboratively to highlight the many benefits of regularly cycling to work.

The Cycle to Work Alliance is delighted to welcome its newest member Vivup, who will be joining forces with Cyclescheme, Halfords, Evans and Cycle Solutions – the other leading providers of the UK’s Cycle to Work Scheme. The Cycle to Work Alliance is a coalition of these market leaders representing approximately 80 per cent of the market.

The Alliance works hard to promote the narrative around Cycle to Work and has continued to focus on the health, environmental and productivity benefits of this widely used scheme, enabling cost effective access to employees across the UK – over 1 million employees have participated to date.

Adrian Warren, Chair of the Cycle to Work Alliance shared: “We are delighted to welcome Vivup as members of the Cycle to Work Alliance. This strengthens the voice of the Alliance, and boosts our efforts to ensure the Cycle to Work Scheme remains at the heart of the government’s approach to commuting.

“As employees consider how to return to the office at the appropriate time, the scheme will have an even more critical role to play. Having Vivup on board will help highlight even further the benefits the scheme delivers for employers, employees and the government particularly in terms of health, productivity, clean air and reducing emissions.”

Simon Moyle, Vivup’s Commercial & Strategy Director commented: “Our Cycle to Work scheme is one of the most popular employee benefits we offer and employers truly value it for their people. The Cycle to Work Alliance is committed to safeguarding the future of Cycle to Work and we are excited to be joining this coalition to help shape and influence government policy in this area moving forwards. Together we can ensure that the value of the scheme remains firmly on our government’s radar for employees, employers and the wider economy, enabling even more people to access it.”

About Vivup

Founded in 2005, Vivup is a UK leading employee benefits provider specialising in physical, financial and mental health wellbeing. Vivup provides a flexible, innovative and customisable platform and a wide selection of in-house benefits including a Cycle to Work scheme, specifically designed to improve employee engagement and loyalty.

www.vivup.co.uk

The number of employees joining the Cycle to Work scheme has more than doubled as commuters make plans for returning to the workplace, amid growing concerns about the safety of using public transport as lockdown eases.

New data from the Cycle to Work Alliance shows that in June there was a more than 120% increase in the number of people joining the scheme compared to the previous year. This built on a 52% increase in scheme participation in May 2020, compared to the previous year.

The surge of employees wanting to access the scheme, which allows commuters to obtain bicycles and cycling equipment tax free through salary sacrifice, shows many people are actively preparing to embrace cycling as more of the UK prepares to come out of lockdown.

This comes following the landmark announcement from the Transport Secretary of a £2bn package to help increase cycling and walking capacity, and calls from the Prime Minister for more workers to take-up cycling and ensure they get to work as safely as possible as lockdown measures are gradually lifted.

The Cycle to Work Alliance, made up of the leading cycling providers, is now calling for the government to support this shift towards cycling and help more people get back to work by extending the scheme to include the self-employed.

To read our full press release, please click here: Surge in Cycle to Work scheme participants shows British are shifting their transport habits

The Cycle to Work Alliance, in collaboration with senior transport, environment and health leaders, has today welcomed the government’s update to the Cycle to Work Scheme guidance.

Not only will the new guidance bring significantly increased health and wellbeing benefits, it will also further reduce the number of cars on the road and improve air quality.

The new guidance makes it easier and simpler for employers to offer the scheme to their employees and, therefore, easier for employees to get on a bike. In fact, the new guidance will enable more people than ever to access the benefits of regularly cycling to work.

As such, the update to the guidance marks a significant step forward in doubling cycling activity by 2025, as committed to by government in its Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy, and has the full backing of the cycling, health and environment communities.

Whereas the previous guidance contained barriers to maximising take-up of the Scheme, such as a cap on the amount an employee could spend on a bike, the new guidance removes these barriers.

As a result, the new guidance is particularly beneficial to those who need an electric or specially-adapted bike to get to work, including people with disabilities, lower-earners and those who live further from work, unable to walk or cycle long distances without assistance.

Commenting on the new guidance, Chair of the Cycle to Work Alliance, Adrian Warren, said:

“On behalf of the Alliance, 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.

The new guidance will also enable more people than ever to participate in cycle to work, including disabled people, people who live further away from work, older workers and those on lower incomes.

We look forward to continuing to work with the government to ensure awareness of the Scheme is maximised to all.”

Ruth Cadbury MP, Chair of the Cycling APPG, said:

“The Cycling APPG wants to see more people cycling more often. This is why we have been a long-standing and vocal supporter of the Cycle to Work Scheme and we’re delighted by the publication of this new guidance.

As a cross-party group of parliamentarians, we have been united in our calls for the scheme to be expanded to reflect new innovations in the market, such as the rapid growth in availability and demand for e-bikes. This vital modernisation of the scheme will help to ease the financial barriers and convert more potential cyclists into regular active travel commuters.

We look forward to working with the government and the cycling community to successfully implement these new guidelines and make cycling more accessible to everyone”.

Stephen Edwards, Director of Policy & Communications at Living Streets, the UK charity for everyday walking said:

“It’s increasingly important that we commute short journeys in a sustainable way, such as walking and cycling. This improves our health by keeping us active but also helps cut traffic, greenhouse gases and air pollution. We, at Living Streets, offer the cycle to work scheme to our own employees. Our Walking Works scheme also provides help for people throughout the UK to walk all or part of the way to work – complementing the cycle to work scheme.”

Xavier Brice, Chief Executive at Sustrans, the walking and cycling charity said:

“We warmly welcome the new Cycle to Work Scheme guidance which highlights the UK government’s ambition to make cycling an activity for everyone. Removing the cap an employee can spend on a bike will open up cycling to more people, enabling them to purchase specially adapted or electric cycles, which was not previously possible due to their high cost.

Encouraging more people to get on bikes means that more people can enjoy the National Cycle Network. Sustrans is busy making paths on the Network more suitable for everyone by removing 16,000 barriers, as well as increasing the number of people who can actively travel to work with a smile on their face.

There’s no doubt that cycling is good for our health and the environment, which is why we would like all employers and their workforces to take full advantage of the Scheme. In future we would like to see similar schemes on offer for those not in work so that more people can access cycles no matter their age or employment status.”

Notes for editors:

  1. For more information, contact Cameron Wall on 020 7227 1644 or [email protected]
  2. What is the Cycle to Work Alliance? The Cycle to Work Alliance is a coalition of the four largest providers of the Cycle to Work Scheme (Cyclescheme, Cycle Solutions, Evans Cycles and Halfords). Together, it represents around 80 per cent of the market.
  3. What is the cycle to Work Scheme? The Cycle to Work Scheme is a tax-efficient, salary-sacrificed employee benefit, introduced in the 1999 Finance Act, that provides a way of encouraging more adults to take up cycling.
  4. To date, it is estimated the Cycle to Work Scheme has encouraged over 1.6 million commuters to cycle to work, involving over 40,000 employers.
  5. Key stats based on Alliance survey results:
  • The Cycle to Work Scheme is a proven mechanism of incentivising behaviour change, with 67 per cent of users cycling more because of the Scheme.
  • Employees who participate in schemes run by Alliance members can save up to 42 per cent of the total cost of a new bike.
  • 49 per cent of Cycle to Work Scheme users joined the scheme to keep fit, and respondents felt that the scheme helped them be more active.
  • 63.5 per cent of employers felt that the scheme had a positive impact on staff health and 44 per cent said that the scheme helped increase staff engagement.
  • 60 per cent of scheme users join the scheme in order to spread the cost, and 44 per cent are attracted to the scheme because of the savings it offers.
  • On average, scheme users save £776 per year on their commute. Spread across the people who use the scheme, this totals an estimated saving of £388 million for commuters per year.

Our members