Data is minor issue
SIR – I feel the article on your front page (Fleet News, March 2) is not an accurate assessment of the current position with regard to employee car ownership plans (ECOPs).
There is not, to my knowledge, a ‘crack team’ in HM Revenue & Customs looking at this area but inspectors have been warned of the possible issues which can arise with ECOPs. In view of this, some inspectors are revisiting schemes to which they have previously given clearance.
While this review would consider the issue of mileage data and whether the records of business mileage are adequate to allow a claim for Approved Mileage Allowance Payment (AMAP) relief to be made, this is – in my view – only a minor aspect of their attention.
They are more interested in the structure of such schemes, how the payment is made to the driver and whether this payment qualifies to be made tax-free. Another concern is whether the scheme works in line with NIC rules which require the NIC to be determined by reference to earnings periods. It is in my view good sense for those who have ECOP schemes in place to ensure their arrangements are robust.
Chartered accountant, Wilder Coe, London
Confusion on smoking ban
SIR – Regarding the smoking legislation which comes into force in Scotland on March 26 (Fleet NewsNet, March 2), the second paragraph in the documentation for vehicles is for vans, and not cars.
This is misleading and may cause companies confusion.
The Prohibition of Smoking in Certain Premises (Scotland) Regulations 2006 states that no smoking premises include ‘vehicles which one or more persons use for work’.
Private vehicles, which are defined as ‘used primarily for the private purposes of the person who owns it or of a person having the right to use it’ are exempt.
The company car would be for an individual driver’s exclusive use – for example under a company personal leasing scheme. If the car is a pool vehicle used by more than one person, then it is not exempt under the new rules.
The Scottish Executive guidance document, Helping to get your business or organisation ready for the new law on smoking, states: ‘Vehicles used for business purposes will be affected by the new law.
‘These include light and heavy goods vehicles and public transport such as taxis, buses, trains and ferries. However, if you use a car (your own or company car) for business purposes, it will be exempt.’
Acting Head of Transport, Strathclyde Police
Built-in sat-nav is not sensible
SIR – I cannot believe the article on ‘Extra spec’ (Fleet NewsNet, February 16) which listed in-built satellite-navigation as a sensible investment. I run a small fleet of cars and actively discourage staff from specifying in-built satellite navigation for three reasons:
1) They are VERY expensive.
2) Users pay tax on them if they are not removable.
3) Because they are not removable the cost is ongoing.
I supply all users with a top-of-the-range portable TomTom system which is considerably cheaper than an in-built product. It costs drivers next to nothing for taxation purposes and they can take it out and use it when on foot in a town – brilliant!
SIR – With reference to John Jennings’ email (Fleet News, March 2), is it just me or did anyone else think that the Saab boot-opening finger-action is also very useful when operating a similar button found under the hood?
PWS Group Services, Cheltenham
Never admit fault
SIR – I was asked by one of our drivers if she would be liable for the excess as a result of an accident. I asked her if it was her fault and she said she didn’t think so. She then went on to explain that she had hit a skip. When I said the skip could not be held responsible, she replied ‘Well, it wasn’t there yesterday’!
Health Protection Agency, Colindale, London