Encouraging employees to use company cars ensures they are likely to pick cleaner greener vehicles.
By contrast, Transport Minister David Jamieson said people who opt out of company car schemes are more likely to choose vehicles with higher emissions, which is bad for the environment.
Speaking at the Fleet News Industry Conference, Jamieson said: ‘We want to avoid opt-outs. If people do opt out then cars chosen tend not to be as clean.’ He told delegates the Government would encourage businesses to invest in cleaner cars. The Minister’s view that employees who opt out of company car schemes and choose cars with higher emissions was questioned at the conference by a delegate whose accountancy firm specialises in providing alternative car schemes.
He said: ‘Those people who opt out tend to use between 10% to 20% less fuel and drive between 10% to 20% fewer miles in a year.’
Jamieson replied that company motorists have been encouraged into cars that emit less CO2 but that he would welcome any research that suggested motorists who opted out were also choosing cleaner vehicles. He said: ‘We have to get a careful balance so we don’t create the wrong sort of incentives. We appreciate this a sensitive area.’
The Minister claimed that since the introduction of the CO2-based company car tax system figures showed the actual reduction in carbon emissions was equal to taking up to 40,000 cars off the road.
During a question and answer session, Stewart Whyte, a director of the Association of Car Fleet Operators, asked the Minister to provide figures for the number of accidents involving Department for Transport staff using their own or department-provided vehicles on company business.
Jamieson replied that he did not have the figures to hand but promised to provide them.
Earlier this year, it was revealed that the DfT had no idea how many accidents its employees have while driving for work or how many vehicles it operates. (Fleet NewsNet, August 12). It prompted the fleet industry to accuse the Government body of hypocrisy.
It came after Jamieson told MPs in Parliament: ‘The number of vehicles operated by the department and its agencies is not recorded and neither is the number of accidents.’