Dogma over bikes adds to low uptake

Southampton Container Terminals has blamed the flop of its new bike scheme on the company’s isolated location. Just 3% of staff have joined the salary sacrifice plan since its launch in November. Colin Beeson, payroll controller at the port-based firm, said staff were reluctant to sign up because the government stipulates that they must cycle to work in order to be eligible for tax breaks. He said: "We are a little bit out from Southampton and it’s a busy road. Because it was written down that the bike must be used to get to and from work that may have put some people off." The company’s 580 employees can save up to 45% off the cost of a new bike through the scheme, run by benefits provider Booost, because the cost of the bike is free from VAT, income tax and NI contributions. Beeson said that the company launched a home computing scheme at the same time, but, while 200 staff opted for a PC, just 18 employees ordered bikes. He added that government rules are deterring would-be cyclists. "How can they enforce [the rule that staff must travel to work on the bike]? As a company, let’s just say we were not too concerned whether it was used for that purpose or not. If someone lives about six miles away they might still use the bike at the weekend. So what difference does it make? It still gets a car off the road – [just] at the weekend rather than during the week."