Fleet News

Fleets count the costs of delayed white paper

FLEET managers are having to bear the cost of repeated delays in publication of the Government's integrated transport policy white paper as they hold back on replacing company cars to see what it could mean to their buying strategies. Several firms have extended contracts or running periods on fleets only to have their efforts wasted because of repeated delays from Whitehall mandarins.

The paper was originally expected to have been published in March but repeated delays mean it is now not expected until after the completion of the Treasury's comprehensive departmental spending review in July. The delays prove ominous, suggesting that the Government is finding the issue a harder one to tackle than at first thought. Many firms had also extended their vehicle holding periods to see how the Government Budget might affect future taxation, only to see Chancellor Gordon Brown leave them guessing.

Now they are having to give way to financial pressures and renew their fleets, rather than lose money waiting for the Government to make an announcement. James Hobson, facilities manager for Mitsubishi Electric, in Hatfield, Herts, who manages a fleet of 250 vehicles, extended the leasing time for his fleet from December to April to coincide with the expected launch date for the white paper. He said: 'I want to review our fleet and the way we operate, but we also wanted to wait until the white paper came out. We have now had to go ahead and order new cars, so there is a moratorium on looking at our fleet, because business has to go on.;

Alan Reid, who assists with managing the 34-strong fleet at Liverpool shipping firm T & J Harrison, has also been hit by the delay. His firm had been holding on to its fleet and seeing the value of vehicles drop as it was expecting the white paper to come out in June with guidance for their fleet policy. Caroline Mitchell, office manager for headhunter Russell Reynolds Associates, said her firm had decided to opt for cash instead of cars in anticipation of Government taxes increasing the burden on fleets.

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