Fleet News

Government attacked for comments on homeworking

THE government has been criticised for arguing that because the likes of restaurant waiting staff are unable to work from home, there will be no tax incentive for home working.

Its comments came in response to a petition launched on the Number 10 website which called for the prime minister to reduce the need for office-based workers to commute to work each day.

The petition asked the government to give employers and employees tax incentives to reduce or eliminate commuting and wants better use of home working or flexible working hours.

Part of the government’s response was: ‘Although we are keen to encourage people in this way, we recognise that not all jobs are amenable to teleworking; personal service occupations such as restaurant waiting staff, for example.

‘Direct incentives to those who are in a position to telework might therefore be an incentive to the favoured minority, given that personal service workers tend to be at the lower end of the earnings spectrum.’

The Association of British Drivers said the comments werejust ‘inane blathering’.

Spokesman Nigel Humphries added: ‘The government has previously used scaremongering claims about congestion increasing to justify road pricing and insisted that doing nothing is not an option.

‘Yet when a sensible option other than road pricing is put forward, the government effectively rejects it.’

  • The full government response:

    ‘The Government is keen to encourage flexible working (working at the most suitable time and place for the task, rather than teleconferencing) but recognises that it is for companies and individuals to work out how best to deliver this.

    The Department for Transport, through the Smarter Choices programme, encourages employers to develop workplace travel plans, aimed at reducing car use for travel to work and for travel to business. A plan is typically a package of practical measures to encourage staff to choose alternatives to single-occupancy car use and to reduce the need to travel at all for their work, including teleconferencing and teleworking where appropriate.

    Although we are keen to encourage people in this way, we recognise that not all jobs are amenable to teleworking; personal service occupations such as restaurant waiting staff, for example. Direct incentives to those who are in a position to telework might therefore be an incentive to the favoured minority, given that personal service workers tend to be at the lower end of the earnings spectrum.

    Similarly not all homes are suitable for use as personal office space and, again it will tend to be those at the end of the earnings spectrum who live in the least suitable properties. Any encouragement of teleworking also needs to ensure that, in removing commuting journeys from peoples' lives, it does not contribute in the long term to urban sprawl, as people choose to live further from town or city centres.

    There are tax incentives to encourage employees to take up sustainable travel plans but these do not currently include teleworking.’

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