Fleet News

Cash-for-car fleets call for safety help

GROWING numbers of fleet executives who introduced 'quick-fix' cash-for-car schemes are calling in outside help because their strategy risks falling foul of health and safety laws.

Many companies have introduced cash-for-car programmes without fully assessing what type of scheme their business and employees need to save the company money and cut staff tax bills.

And the change has left firms in the dark about whether employees are driving cars that are safe for business use, as the employer has no record of servicing, business insurance or an employee's safety record.

A number of companies which specialise in implementing professional cash-for-car schemes are now being approached by fleets wanting to overhaul their offering and ensure they meet their duty of care obligations.

Companies are increasingly concerned about corporate responsibility, and in particular fears about the effect of any future corporate killingtax, law, which has resulted in a major health and safety drive in company boardrooms (Fleet NewsNet July 24).

Cash-for-car specialist Provecta Car Plan has noted a rising number of fleets wanting professional help with their own cash-for-car schemes.

Director of sales Nick Phillips said: 'After last year's changes to the company car tax system many companies included a cash-for-car option as a quick fix for drivers wanting lower tax bills.

'But they now realise that this has brought about major health and safety risks. Some fleets don't know where the cars are MoT'd or whether they are properly maintained and you can't afford to let drivers source their own insurance. You have to control it.'

Nigel Underdown, head of customer relationships at Bank of Scotland Vehicle Management, said his company was also talking to fleets concerned about their duty of care role.

He said: 'We find problems like this constantly when we go into businesses who have launched their own cash-for-car schemes.

'I fear many fleets do not even take the simple step of checking employee driving licences. There will definitely be drivers out there who have lost their licence through an offence and haven't owned up to it.

'Many companies who have launched their own cash-for-car schemes also do not know where their cars are serviced or whether the driver has adequate business insurance. This is vital under duty of care obligations and it doesn't have to be complicated.'

Another potential problem associated with 'quick-fix' cash- for-car schemes is drivers being able to choose their own used cars.

Lex Vehicle Leasing managing director Jon Walden said: 'Some cash-for-car drivers can run any vehicle they want and that could include a second-hand vehicle that has not been properly maintained.'

Richard Schooling, commercial director at Alphabet, said: 'You would hope this was not a widespread problem but there will be fleets out there who are not running their vehicles properly as part of their duty of care obligations. But these problems can also apply to traditional company car fleets and not just for those running their own cash-for-car schemes.'

Such problems highlight the need for proper fleet training, as identified in the Fleet News Get Trained campaign. Since its launch, fleet executives with a combined fleet of more than 20,000 vehicles have contacted us to ask to be put in touch with training companies for all aspects of fleet management.

Key issues surrounding the successful implementation of a cash for car scheme will be addressed at this year's Hit for Six conference.

The Cash in Hand session will examine the circumstances in which a cash alternative becomes a wise choice for a company and for a company car driver.

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