Friday, September 12, 2008

Simply Cycle To Work

This post is dedicated to my friend Kai, who loves stuff which isn't nearly as simple as it could and should be.

I have been considering buying a new bike recently and the fact that my new company subscribes to the Ride 2 Work* scheme, coupled with the recent failure of my front brake cable** and the stars aligning meant that the auspicious time of bicycle purchase was upon me. The government's cycle to work scheme is advantageous as an employee pays for cycle equipment out of their gross pay over the course of a year, not only saving whatever income tax*** they would pay (ie, roughly 30%) but also by staggering the payment over a year. So I visited HR to ask how one could go about joining the scheme. I was told that the paper work wasn't ready but that as I was so in need I could run it past my big boss. He was busy but I went to a cycle shop after work to have a look at bikes, assuming that I could buy a bike and basically just pass the receipt on to my employer. After chatting with the assistant**** in the shop about the scheme I was again reminded of the rule that nothing is simple that can be made complicated by bureaucracy. Here's how the scheme actually works: You find out which shop your company has joined up with. You chose a bike from that shop. You record how much that bike costs. You fill in the following forms: Employee Registration, Employee Salary Sacrifice Agreement and Purchase Order. Finance (hopefully) approves your request. Your work informs the shop's head office. They send back a voucher. You collect bike. This, according to the first sentence in section 1.2 of the bumf I now have "couldn't be simpler". I beg to differ.

* As I have discovered this name is important, as it indicates which company you can buy your cycling equipment from, Ride2Work is the Evens Cycles scheme, other cycle to work schemes are available.

UPDATE I don't think this is true, in theory the scheme just allows your employer to give you an interest and tax free loan to buy a bike, however in practice companies such as Evans manage to lock companies in to their own schemes by making it simpler for them.

** Yes I am still using it. I came across the bridge of death this morning to find firemen trying to free another cyclist from beneath another lorry.

*** Actually it's better than I thought, you not only get income tax and national insurance off, but VAT too bringing the saving up to about 40% in my case.

**** When I said to the assistant that I would save whatever tax I pay, say 30%, he replied, well, it could be 50%. That's right, I am in the top tax bracket. Not.


Kai Hendry said...

How the fuck did you miss my highly ranked in-depth article on the ride to work topic?

You're late the party!

Last weekend I interestingly came along an old route master Bus that had rails along the side, that according to the guide... was for preventing people getting caught under the wheels.

Jamie said...

I linked it from my post.