Merger taxes civil servants

HM Revenue and Customs is in the process of an extensive benefits revamp following the merger of Customs and the Inland Revenue.

The merger took place in April and the organisation is currently combining the pay and benefits packages of the two departments.

Dave Clarke, head of transport and travel at the merged government department, said: "We’ve obviously had to look at conditions and pay and things like that and put them together. Obviously we are two huge organisations with over 100,000 people. It’s a nightmare."

The government body has also made changes to its company car structure and a number of other transport-related benefits.

It has outsourced the administration of its car fleet and has had to be watchful not to fall foul of its own rules. "We’ll obviously have to be especially careful with [it]. As far as the changes are concerned we are in quite a good position of understanding the tax implications of fleet," said Clarke.

Its new outsourcing arrangement will include the outright purchase of cars as well as vehicle leasing. It will look after the maintenance of all cars, provide a breakdown service and fuel, and offer a six monthly driving licence check. Drivers will now log into an internet site to manage their cars.

Before the changes, Customs didn’t have a traditional car policy. "The Customs’ fleet is very much specialist vehicles for covert type work. They have x-ray vehicles and stuff like that. But they don’t have a company car scheme at the moment so we will review whether that can be opened up to Customs. So there could potentially be a lot of work there."

HM Revenue & Customs currently pays staff a bicycle allowance, similar to the authorised mileage allowance payment rates for car drivers, to use their bikes for business travel. It is currently considering whether to extend this by offering salary sacrifice tax-free bike loans. "We did think about it but we haven’t got very far with it. There were health and safety type issues; providing the bikes safely would be quite difficult," said Clarke.