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Fleet News roundtable: Public sector fleets find new ways to cut costs

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The economy may have turned the corner, but the effects of the financial crisis are still being keenly felt in the public sector.

Cash-strapped organisations have been forced to find further savings and fleet budgets continue to be squeezed.

There is a mantra of ‘more for less’ and fleets are employing numerous measures to ensure their assets are working harder.

No stone is being left unturned as they face greater scrutiny from taxpayers wary of how their cash is being spent and a green agenda that demands they reduce their environmental impact.

Fleet decision-makers discussed what tactics they are employing at a Fleet News public sector roundtable, sponsored by Alphabet.

Cost cutting and cost control have been very relevant for fleets in the public sector. What have you been doing to address these issues?

Ian Jutson, national fleet services manager, Environment Agency: We started the process in 2010.

We looked at the utilisation of our commercial fleet and removed anything that wasn’t being fully utilised.

The first tranche saw us reduce the fleet by 200 vehicles and we continue to assess our vehicles on a monthly basis to look at the levels of utilisation.

Sarah Foreman, head of maintenance, University of Cambridge: It’s something we’ve done as well and we managed to get rid of 14 vehicles just from looking at usage.

Pete Spiller, team leader, Phoenix CMT, Ministry of Defence: You can have several different units with their vehicles parked next to each other on a base.

One can have five different vehicles not being used on a particular day and the one next door is renting five vehicles.

We’re using vehicle utilisation data provided by telematics to highlight issues like this and we’ve introduced a vehicle booking system to utilise this spare capacity.

What other measures are you employing to reduce costs?

Derek Thornton, fleet consultant, Post Office: At the Post Office, the real objective is to maintain costs. It has a fleet of 500 vehicles, which is having to be separated from the Royal Mail’s fleet of thousands.

There is a concern around the Post Office’s buying power now it is not part of a much larger fleet.

The first objective is to keep your costs contained.

However, we believe if it focuses on policy and supply chain it can still reduce costs.

From a policy perspective, that requires a particular focus on NIC costs, AFRs, replacement cycles and the grey fleet.

From a supply chain perspective, it’s about looking at what’s the best option in the marketplace.

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