With less than 50 days to go until the Tour de France Grand Départ 2014 begins in Leeds (5 July 2014), a reward specialist at EY has predicted an increase in organisations offering “cycle to work” schemes in the region and urged company bosses to capitalise on the event’s popularity to introduce the benefit.
Cycle to work initiatives give employees the opportunity to exchange a reduction in salary to hire a new bike and associated safety equipment to a value of £1,000, without paying tax or National Insurance on the benefit.
Repayments are deducted before tax, reducing the cost to the employee, and the bike should be used mainly for travelling to and from work.
At the end of a pre-defined period, workers have the option to buy the bike for an ‘acceptable market value’ or continue to lease it.
Luigi Falivene, leader of EY’s Performance and Reward team in Yorkshire, said:
“Cycle to work schemes are a major plus for active employees, who can access new bikes and safety equipment tax-free.
“By encouraging cycling, the schemes also help companies show they are environmentally aware, value the health of their people and support different lifestyles.
“The upside for organisations is being able to attract and retain employees, and deliver against their CSR policies.”
The number of people cycling to work grew by 49 per cent in Leeds and 80 per cent in Sheffield between 2001 and 2011 – although the total number of people cycling to work declined in Yorkshire and Humber as a whole during the period – according to an ONS report published in March 2014.
However, the Tour de France Grand Départ 2014 is likely to boost cycling in the region.
Organisers anticipate the event, taking place in England for the first time since 2007, will draw four to five million spectators over three days.
“The Grand Départ is likely to increase the profile of cycling in Yorkshire’s cities and we expect the number of organisations in the region offering the schemes to grow as more employees express an interest in cycling to work.
“Front footed Yorkshire businesses should grasp the opportunity to introduce this benefit while cycling’s popularity is at its peak over the coming months.
“A cycle to work scheme will resonate with active staff members and have benefits for the company, including reductions in Employers’ National Insurance contributions.”