With HMRC taking a tougher stance on accurate mileage record-keeping, it's important to have a robust system in place. Here we assess the different ways of capturing mileage.
Mileage capture: why bother?
- HMRC compliance and avoiding potentially hefty fines for inaccurate mileage records.
- Reduction in business mileage – experts predict a 25% reduction.
- Potential to switch from paying AFRs (Advisory Fuel Rates) to an exact pence per mile to cut fuel bill.
- Taxation benefits such as better VAT reclaim and the potential to link mileage to subsistence allowance
- Time and admin saving for drivers, especially if details are prepopulated.
- Time and admin saving for company, particularly if a third party carries out mileage audits.
- Can support CO2 reporting and reduction targets.
Option 1: Handwritten logbook
How it works
A logbook is kept in the vehicle, with the driver jotting down their business journeys. It sounds outdated, but many companies still take this no-frills approach. Paul Jackson, managing director of The Miles Consultancy (TMC), says: “We frequently see this; 25% of the companies we come across are still using pen and paper.”
The most basic and cheapest option and may suit drivers who do not have frequent access to an office computer such as van drivers.
Potential for inaccuracy, there may not be space to record sufficient detail and it is not possible to run reports. Logbooks may go missing.
Option 2: Spreadsheet
How it works
One step up from a handwritten logbook, this sees drivers logging mileage electronically. Aa spreadsheet is the biggest competitor to a dedicated mileage capture system, although the larger the fleet the more onerous it becomes because of the admin required to keep up-to-date. Therefore, it benefits smaller fleets.
Inexpensive as most companies have Microsoft Office and easier for admin than handwritten logbooks.
Like logbooks, spreadsheets are prone to inaccuracies and onerous. “It’s very easy for drivers to add fictitious journeys or inflate business mileage,” says Jon Mackeny, head of consultancy for Allstar.
Option 3: Online mileage capture
How it works
Although HMRC doesn’t require postcodes, it is considered good practice and these systems typically work by drivers logging in, verifying their vehicle’s details, entering ‘from’ and ‘to’ postcodes and the reason for the journey.
Drivers also record their odometer reading which enables the system to calculate private mileage for reimbursement if they are using a fuel card. Text message or email reminders are sent to drivers.
Systems are available from dedicated providers like TMC, Midas and Vertivia, or from fuel card companies and leasing and fleet management companies.
It typically costs £1 per driver per month depending on the level of service and reporting required.
TMC will handle auditing and driver communication, in addition to the online mileage capture system, for £3 per driver per month.
Mileage Count offers a different payment model with a flat fee of £5 per month per company (not per driver) for its starter level package.
The other levels (‘premium’ and ‘ultimate’) have a charge per driver per month, in addition to the flat fee.
“At the premium level the system is linked to Google Maps,” says Steve Clarke, group marketing manager at Mileage Count. ‘Ultimate’ is a full fleet management package.
More accurate and sophisticated than a spreadsheet or paper-based logbook, reduced administration, many claim to be HMRC-compliant, potential to switch from AFR rates to drivers paying actual fuel, grey fleet checks can usually be built in.
Still relies on drivers inputting journeys and providing odometer readings; odometer readings can be affected by variations in tyre pressure and wear; and the systems don’t cover all scenarios.
“The next step is to have holidays built in to make sure people aren’t doing mileage on holiday,” says Jackson.