Tackling the cost of commuting crisis

From filling up a car to catching a train, the cost of commuting for workers is rapidly rising. Commuters need access to low cost, easy to use commuting options to help tackle these rising costs, and get a handle on one of the largest parts of the cost of living.

Cycling is the most cost effective commuting option

More than ever, commuters need access to affordable modes of transport to help them tackle the cost of living. As the cost of other travel alternatives rise, cycling is the clearest way of employees reducing their commuting costs in the long run.

1.  https://www.rac.co.uk/drive/advice/fuel-watch/
2.  https://www.nimblefins.co.uk/cheap-car-insurance/average-cost-run-car-uk
3.  https://www.louisehaigh.org.uk/news/2022/03/01/rail-betrayal-fares-rise-twice-as-fast-as-wages-under-tories/
4. (Based on London prices) https://tfl.gov.uk/campaign/new-fares
5.  https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/quarterly-bus-statistics-january-to-march-2022/quarterly-bus-statistics-january-to-march-2022#local-bus-fares
6.  https://m.stagecoachgroup.com/media/news-releases/2020/2020-02-13.aspx

Cycling is a far lower cost commuting option than car or rail, offering significant savings for a high quality bike. In the face of spiralling expenses, cycling offers a route to reducing costs and putting money back in peoples’ pockets.

The Cycle to Work scheme makes cycling even more cost effective

By using the Cycle to Work scheme, employees are able to reduce the cost of commuting even further.

Through the scheme, employees can spread the costs out over many months and thereby help employees to obtain a high quality bike or e-bike.

A basic rate taxpayer will typically save 43% on the cost of a bike. This saving also extends to any equipment obtained with the bike, such as a helmet, a lock and lights. Furthermore, unlike some other options, the scheme enables users to pay the cost off typically over 12 months, making it even more affordable.

43% of scheme users state that the main reason why they were encouraged to join was because it spread the cost of a bike and cycling equipment over several months.

Not only does the Cycle to Work scheme save consumers money and allow them to spread payments out, it also does not come with the same risks as credit cards or buy now pay later schemes. As a salary sacrifice, consumers are not at the same risk of late payment fees, high interest rates or bad credit scores. So long as an employer offers the scheme and certain conditions are met, employees can obtain access to a bike and start their cycle commuting.

  • At FSB, we hope that Ministers listen to these solid policy recommendations from the Cycle to Work Alliance. These will expand the scheme’s success to more of the 5.9 million small businesses and the self-employed, removing barriers and helping the government’s mission to level-up, tackle the impacts of Covid-19 and improve transport in our local communities.

    Craig Beaumont
    Chief of External Affairs at the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB)

  • As we move past the pandemic, cycling to work needs to be a choice available to all, including the self-employed. The scheme will be just the solution many are looking for to help them get back to business. It will not only benefit them, but the economy and the environment too.

    Andy Chamberlain
    Director of Policy at IPSE (the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed)

  • 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.

    Gill Furniss MP
    Shadow Roads Minister

Helping all employees with the cost of commuting

The way the scheme is currently designed means that some employees – particularly those on low incomes or self-employed – are unable to access the scheme to obtain a bike. This excludes some employees that would benefit most from a low cost commuting option.

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 because of current National Minimum Wage rules. A further 1 in 10 of these said it was because they were self-employed, meaning they could not access the scheme.

The Alliance has called on government to improve accessibility to the scheme alongside the FSB, Co-Op and other cycling and business groups to make cycling to work more accessible for all employees.

This is more important than ever as the cost of commuting crisis bites and employees need cheaper ways of commuting to work. The Cycle to Work scheme is a clear solution that many employees are locked out from accessing.

Government should announce plans to make cycle commuting and the scheme’s savings accessible to all as part of its upcoming Budget.

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