November 24th, 2016
The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond has announced recently that there will be no changes to the popular Cycle To Work scheme and it will continue to operate in its current form. Cycling campaigners will breathe a sigh of relief that a government scheme set up in 1999 as part of the Finance Act, will remain untouched and continue to encourage employees to commute to work by bike.
The Cycle to Work scheme, which allows employers to loan bicycles to their staff as a tax free benefit, was aimed at improving the health and well being of staff by promoting a healthy lifestyle and also reducing traffic pollution in the process. To date, the scheme has been used by more than 1.1 million workers and cycling and environmental campaigners are pleased that Phillip Hammond has left it untouched.
The Chancellor also announced in his Autumn Statement that £1.1 billion has been made available to Councils to improve and upgrade local roads with £220 m to “tackle pinch-points”. There was no mention of whether this included cycling infrastructure but campaigners were quick to suggest that it should be.
CEO of Cycling UK, Paul Tuohy, said: “Local roads are what everyone uses most regularly, but they are so often overlooked when it comes to public spending in place of big budget projects like motorways or A-roads.
“The chancellor’s pledge of ￡1.1 bn to upgrade our local roads is a real opportunity for councils to tackle not just congestion, but also the health issues caused by dire air quality and physical inactivity.
“Local authorities must use these new local road funds to make Space for Cycling at the same time. This would be a cost efficient use of new money that will benefit all road users and the local community.”
Co-chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Cycling Group, Ruth Cadbury MP, commented “The large investment in local roads could see a revolution in cycling – I hope that towns and cities across England will get the segregated facilities that are needed to increase our cycling rates to European levels.”