Fleet News

Avoid being 'hit for six' by new fleet challenges

##Hit for Six--none##

AS an employer and fleet operator, where do your responsibilities towards at-work drivers start and stop? Will company directors go to jail because of driving mistakes made by their staff?

Where does the line lie between the end of your duty of care and the start of your employees' responsibility for their own actions?

These questions have become pressing preoccupations for UK fleet decision-makers as the Government pays ever closer attention to the dangers that at-work drivers present and the risks they face. The Work-related Road Safety Task Group, and the publication of its report last year, called for tougher prosecution for employers who fail in their duty of care towards staff who drive as part of their jobs, including a focus on hours worked, time spent behind the wheel and sales targets.

Fleet industry rumours continue to circulate that the Crown Prosecution Service is looking to 'make an example' of a high profile company whose driver causes a nasty accident because of the pressure or stress of his workload. The prospect of directors ending up behind bars has become a pressing issue for fleet decision-makers. The truth and myth behind these issues will be addressed head-on by solicitor David Faithful, a partner with law firm Amery Parkes, at the Fleet News Hit for Six conference in September. His presentation is sponsored by Town & Country Assistance.

For executives concerned about where their responsibilities to at-work drivers start and stop, this is an essential presentation with information that could keep you and your company out of the courts.

Six reasons to attend

  • Learn the latest thinking on structured employee car ownership schemes
  • Cover all your bases when offering cash-for-car
  • Gain a practical insight into going green
  • Discover the tricks of the trade for maximising residual values
  • Understand your legal health and safety responsibilities to your at-work drivers
  • Hear how to be a fleet hero by meeting your drivers' needs while impressing your bosses .

    Hit for Six takes place at the International Conference Centre in Birmingham on September 24. Tickets cost £49 for fleet decision- makers and £99 for fleet industry professionals.

    The key issues

    Cash for car programmes

    COMPANY car tax changes always prompt employers and drivers to review the advantages and disadvantages of running company cars.

    For employers who want to minimise their fleet involvement, and drivers who want a free choice of the type of car they drive, the lure of a cash-for-car alternative scheme is clear.

    Indeed, recent surveys indicate that as many as 75% of employers now offer their company car drivers a cash alternative, although take-up rates remain relatively low.

    This is perhaps due to the complications of allowing drivers to opt-out, and if businesses are not careful, they could end up paying significantly more in cash than the company car ever cost them, while simultaneously ceding control of the vehicles driven by at-work drivers at a time when the Government is looking for employers to take greater responsibility for staff.

    So how much money should you offer drivers in lieu of their company cars? Should this be cost neutral to the company, or should you pay enough to enable the driver to select an identical car to his or her former company cars?

    What is the most tax efficient way of paying the cash allowance, and what precautions should you take about restricting car choice and ensuring opt-out vehicles are properly maintained and insured for business, and represent the company in an appropriate light?

    David Rawlings, senior manager in Deloitte & Touche's Automotive Sector Group, will address such issues, providing straightforward guidance on the calculations that employers need to make when offering a cash allowances, and the procedures they should introduce to retain adequate corporate control of the cars driven by staff on business.

    Fleet hero

    IT'S a tough task being responsible for a fleet of company cars and vans. Reconciling the wants of your drivers with the requirements of company directors requires the patience of Job, the diplomatic skills of an ambassador, and hands-on practical knowledge and experience to run a happy, cost-effective fleet of vehicles.

    One of the best in the business at balancing all these issues is Dug Brown, fleet executive at supermarket chain Somerfield, and the man in charge of Fleet News' 2002 UK Fleet of the Year.

    At the Fleet News Hit for Six Conference he will share the secrets that have made him one of the most successful fleet managers in the country.

    Eco schemes

    THE fastest-growing sector of the fleet finance market is the development of structured employee car ownership (ECO) schemes, where drivers technically own their cars and therefore avoid paying company car tax.

    These controversial, tax efficient plans have been adopted by some of the UK's leading household names in recent months as employers look to shelter their staff from the new benefit in kind tax system and any subsequent tax rises.

    Originally such schemes were the exclusive preserve of very large fleets that could amortise the consultancy costs of introducing the plans over thousands of vehicles.

    Now, however, off-the-shelf products allow fleets of all sizes to move their fleets off their balance sheets and their drivers out of the grips of the Inland Revenue. But this does not make ECO schemes straightforward. So how do they work, how do you achieve the taxman's approval, how do you explain to drivers that they will own their cars, what are the principal benefits, and where do the potential pitfalls lie?

    Alastair Kendrick, director of PAYE and NI Solutions at Ernst & Young will tackle these issues, discussing the essential points to consider prior to introducing an ECO scheme.

    Going green

    MOUNTING pressure on public and private sector organisations to protect the environment is weighing heavily on the shoulders of fleet decision-makers. Solutions are readily available in the form of alternatively-fuelled vehicles, but these have been getting a bad press in recent weeks.

    A survey last week, for example, indicated that company car drivers still believe that the gas refuelling infrastructure is inadequate, despite more than 1,100 sites now offering LPG.

    Drivers also appear to want additional financial incentives to drive a gas-powered car, without seeming to understand the significant company car tax savings available from driving a gas car, let alone the benefits of buying fuel at 37ppl.

    And from an employer perspective, the extension of grants to subsidise the additional cost of acquiring a gas-powered car has been undermined by fears over the quality of some conversions.

    Yet the pressure to go green is only going to intensify, and the introduction of congestion charging in London provides a further incentive to adopt gas-powered vehicles, given the charge-exempt status enjoyed by the cleanest versions.

    But what exactly is the environmental case in favour of LPG? How do you apply for subsidy grants? Where do you get alternatively-fuelled cars serviced? What are the benefit in kind tax advantages to staff who drive a gas-powered car? And what are the prospects for gas cars in terms of residual values?

    These issues will be addressed by Malcolm Noyle, green fleet development manager for Lloyds TSB Autolease. His presentation is sponsored by TransportAction.

    Maximising RVs

    DEPRECIATION is the biggest element in the wholelife cost of company cars, so maximising the prices achieved when selling is arguably the most important element of fleet management.

    So what are the techniques to ensure you sell your used cars for their highest possible price? Where should you sell them, at what time of year, and how best can you manage the disposal process?

    Through his job as national research manager at CAP Network, Martin Ward has gained years of insight into these issues.

    ##Manheim Auctions--left## A candid, entertaining, and highly informed columnist in Fleet News, Ward will be sharing his knowledge on how you can achieve the best possible prices for your ex-company vehicles.
    Sponsored by Manheim Auctions

  • Book your place

    Call Sandra Evitt on 01733 468123 or print off and fill in the booking form (in pdf format) by clicking here.

    Once you've filled in the booking form fax it back on 01733 468346.

    'Hit for Six' is sponsored by Mazda

    ##Zoom zoom logo--right##

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