Chancellor may turn on Ecop schemes in pre-budget report

Rules around alternatively secured pensions (ASPs) and employee car ownership plans (Ecops) are predicted to feature in this year’s pre-Budget report, due to be delivered on 6 December.

Pensions experts predict the government will alter rules around ASPs, which were introduced last April and allow individuals who have not purchased an annuity by the age of 75 years to pass money onto family members when they die. The government initially hoped ASPs would primarily be used by religious groups which object to annuities on religious grounds as other people benefit in the event of a holder’s death.

Andrew Tully, marketing technical manager at Standard Life, said: “The government would prefer the ASP had a limited usage, and while we don’t think they’ll scrap it, they are likely to slap a hefty tax charge on the scheme to make it less attractive.”

The rules around Ecops and Authorised Mileage Allowance Payments (Amaps) are also expected to be tightened.

This is the amount employers can reimburse staff, tax-free, for business miles travelled in their own car. The current rates are set at 40p for the first 10,000 miles and then 25p a mile.

However, employers which reimburse this allowance to staff on an annual basis, through estimations rather than making monthly calculations, may find their Ecop under threat, and proper mileage logging will be enforced by the government.

Jim Salkeld, managing director at provider Toomey Opticar, explained: “The real issue for fleets is that they must check the validity of their schemes with HM Revenue & Customs.”

Others believe that the Chancellor will also turn his attention towards employers reimbursing staff annually through a PAYE Settlement Agreement which was not intended for use on company cars.

Environmental fleet issues could also receive attention, particularly greater discounts on green fuels such as LPG.