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Letters to Fleet News’ editor Martyn Moore.

Taxman penalising working at home

I read with interest the article “Government attacked over car hypocrisy” (Fleet News, August 9), particularly given the Revenue and Customs’ response to measures employers are taking to minimise road travel for staff.

With the development of good quality broadband connections, it is now much more realistic for staff to work from home at least part of the time.

Unfortunately, the attitude of Revenue and Customs is that, if a company reimburses any part of an individual’s broadband costs, this will be a taxable benefit on the individual.

This is because it is not possible to identify business use separately, and so cannot be classed as wholly and exclusively a business cost.

There has also been a change in attitude to staff claiming job expenses on their tax return for home heating and office costs.

This was once a simple matter agreed by a company and the former Inland Revenue to apply to all staff who worked at home at a level of a few hundred pounds a year.

This is now very often challenged and central agreements discouraged. The government champions flexible working and joined up government, but these matters show the hypocrisy of the situation.

KEITH POLLARD, finance and administration director, Agrovista UK

30mph limit on all roads will save oil

The realities of peak oil prices are already upon us, and there simply is not enough oil for us to continue using it as we are at present.

If no action is taken in the short term, the medium to long term will surely present us with the need for radical and immediate change. There may be great social instability – and this will probably happen within the next 10 years.

I suggest today’s transport system is the key and pivotal factor – it is the place where we must look to find a solution.

My proposal is to reduce the speed limit on all roads to 30mph, including motorways.

This will probably need to be phased in over a period of time. From 50mph to 40mph to 30mph and involve the use of speed limiters fitted to all road vehicles.

Railways will become the means of travelling distances beyond the immediate local environment – provided there is sufficient public investment.

Railways by their very nature have within their technology the capacity to be energy efficient in a number of ways, and with the greater attention the 30mph policy would bring, these would become viable.

Air travel should be heavily taxed to reflect the true hidden costs it entails.

The great global challenges of our day call for radical thinking and this can often lead to politically unpalatable policies. The reality of our unsustainable use of resources will not solve itself and we all need to begin talking about our options for the future.

The 30mph proposal is a viable and reasonable step forward, the necessity for which will become increasingly apparent.

I am a member of the Secular Franciscan Order and as a Franciscan I look to find the small, often quite simple changes that will make a real difference. This is one simple change from which we will all benefit.

GLEN LOWCOCK, by email

Speak up when concerned

I read with interest “Minor glitch = big problem” (Fleet News, August 18). The question is: why didn’t John Maslen feel able to do something at the time?

Why accept a ride in a car where you can’t put your seatbelt on? Why allow the driver to use a hand-held mobile? How dangerous does the behaviour have to be before we speak out?

As a customer, you are well placed to object – to request a larger car to take you or ask to be taken separately on safety grounds. It is a similar issue with asking the driver not to use his mobile phone while driving, and threatening to report him.

I have made it a practice, even when travelling in developing countries, to ask the driver to wear their seatbelt and not use their phone. I only started doing so after a friend in Qatar did it with a taxi driver.

Taxi drivers who comply get a good tip and are told why – those who don’t are asked to pull over. If we can influence Middle East drivers, we can do it anywhere.

A lot of work has been done by road safety officers trying to get young passengers to influence driver behaviour in this way, but I have never come across a fleet which does it in the UK, apart from in the oil industry.

SAUL JEAVONS, director & principal technical specialist, The Transafe Network – Global Corporate Road Safety

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