Fleet News

UK’s small fleets drown in red tape

In most sub-100 fleets, the fleet manager’s role is combined with another job, ranging from secretary to finance director and even managing director, meaning there is little time to handle company cars.

Yet in the past few years, the level of red tape surrounding fleet operations of all sizes has soared.

This week, Fleet News launches its ‘Rip-up Red Tape’ campaign, to expose unnecessary and complicated red tape that makes a fleet manager’s job harder.

Simply dealing with the basics of providing company cars can be difficult enough, experts say, ensuring drivers’ tax details are correct, that their P11d forms are filled in correctly and that vehicles are being taxed in the correct CO2 bands.

Fleet decision-makers at a recent meeting of the Association of Car Fleet Operators’ southern region revealed problems in dealing with something as simple as a V5 registration document.

Because there is nothing showing whether the vehicle is Euro IV compliant, it can become a mammoth task to provide evidence to the Inland Revenue that the vehicle complies and is therefore not liable for a 3% company car tax penalty for non-Euro IV compliant vehicles.

Then there is ensuring the company is paying the right amount of National Insurance on its drivers’ tax bills and that cars are taxed and insured correctly and on time.

And on top of all these issues, employers are under increasing pressure to prove they are meeting their duty of care to drivers, from ensuring they don’t use their mobile phones while driving, to monitoring their business mileage, offering drivers training, checking their health and making sure they don’t speed.

To further increase the pressure, companies have been warned that executives will be held responsible if they are proved to have failed in their duty of care following a serious incident on the road.

According to recent research by Network, a vehicle leasing firm serving the small business sector, there is a high degree of confusion over legislation among those responsible for fleet management within small firms.

It found that 40% of fleets found company car taxation ‘perplexing’, while 36% were unaware of any legislation on corporate liability.

Christophe Desplace, head of Network, said: ‘Most small businesses and sole traders that run vehicles are unlikely to have in-house fleet expertise. They simply don’t have the time or the resources to get to grips with complex legislation.’

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