Fleet News

The cost of grey fleet for local authorities exposed

Fleet News investigations have revealed the massive cost to the public purse of relying on the grey fleet. Despite the Office of Government Commerce producing compelling case studies that show the huge savings public sector bodies can achieve through reducing grey fleet reliance, there are still many government departments that are totally dependent on staff using their own vehicles for business travel.

Every county council quizzed has some reliance on the grey fleet, while 21 of the 39 government departments rely totally on the grey fleet as they do not operate any fleet of their own.

The Ministry of Defence is by far the most reliant of all government departments on grey fleet drivers.

Its employees covered 139.5million miles last year in their own vehicles, which cost the tax payer a staggering £39.9million in mileage claims – a rise of £9m in three years.

The MOD refused to reveal how many grey fleet drivers it has, saying the data was too expensive to recover.

The ministry also has a massive fleet of its own - the largest of all the government fleets at 10,079 vehicles. Despite this, running its grey fleet has cost tax payers a massive £102,300,000 over the past three years.

With such high costs, the MOD is unsurprisingly now focusing on reducing them. It currently only pays HMRC-approved AMAP rates for civilian staff, while all military staff generally receive just 25ppm regardless of mileage.

Now it is going one step further. “At present there is a travel moratorium in place,” explained an MOD spokesman. “This has obviously had an impact on the total number of grey fleet miles claimed. We are also involved with numerous broader reviews on MOD allowances; these will touch on both travel avoidance and reductions. In addition there has also been greater focus on the use of e-mail, telephone and video conferencing reducing the need to travel.”

What is clear from the research is that the grey fleet is now coming under greater scrutiny.

Many government departments are already working to cut their grey fleet costs – a move that will gather momentum when the Autumn Spending Review is published on October 20.

The Cabinet Office told Fleet News: “The Department is committed to reducing its grey fleet volume by encouraging the use of public transport and other more environmentally friendly and cost effective alternatives…the Department has in place a contract with a hire car company. Staff are encouraged to make use of this contract wherever possible over using their own vehicles.”

The move away from grey fleet is being driven not only through the obvious cost-saving benefits, but also to fulfil the government’s environmental agenda. This two-pronged approach to reducing grey fleet travel is one taken by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.

“Staff only travel by car if it is the most reasonable and cost-effective form of travel for the journey and would not involve the Department in more expense than if it had been made by other means, e.g. public transport,” a spokesman said.

“This is particularly important given the generally greater impact on the environment of car use relative to some other forms of transport.”

However, BIS staff still covered close to 1m miles last year in their own cars, at a cost of over £367,000.

The Department for Energy and Climate Change is also on the ball when it comes to driving down grey fleet use.

It tells its staff that they must “only use the most sustainable and cost-effective travel option available,” if they don’t their expenses will not be authorised.

It says its 1,136 employees must plan their work in advance and find ways of combining as many tasks as possible into one journey and use more sustainable means of transport such as walking, cycling or public transport.

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