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Do you know how your business can save money by reducing congestion and minimising parking costs for your employees?

With rising fuel costs, escalating parking charges and relentless traffic congestion, the issue of how staff cope with the challenge of travelling to work is becoming a major concern for many employers. Indeed many city-centre firms are finding that the issue has a knock-on effect on recruitment with potential job candidates opting instead for lower-paid jobs closer to home.

Driving to Work

Some of the most vibrant sectors of the British economy, such as the finance and information technology industries, are concentrated in our city centres.

The cost of parking at work in our cities continues to rise year on year. Birmingham Council has just increased parking charges by eleven per cent and Norwich proposes to do so by up to twelve per cent.

Yet the difficulty of travelling to work by car, which is unavoidable for those of us not served by decent public transport, is increasing each year. Traffic congestion has resulted in city car journeys becoming inexorably slower over each of the past four decades. Meanwhile, the cost of parking at work in our cities continues to rise year on year. Birmingham Council has just increased parking charges by eleven per cent and Norwich proposes to do so by up to twelve per cent.

Some city centre companies are able to provide their own parking for all their staff, but this is becoming increasingly rare. Premium rates for land in our cities and the high cost of monitoring and maintaining a car park precludes many employers from providing large-scale staff parking.

The concern of all this for many employers is the effect the problem has on employee morale and the longer-term impact it has on recruitment. Employers want their staff to arrive at work fresh and eager to get on with the job, not stressed-out by their journey and the difficulty of finding a parking space.

Employers want their staff to arrive at work fresh and eager to get on with the job, not stressed-out by their journey and the difficulty of finding a parking space.

A Fresh Approach

Where possible, public transport is a sensible solution to these problems, particularly where transport links are good and they are affordable. But for many of us this is not the case and we are obliged to use our cars. So, as an employer, how do you ensure your employees, and potential employees, have secure parking near to the workplace at a reasonable cost? And what about those who would like to cycle to work but cannot afford the upfront cost of a decent bike? An increasing number of companies are switching on to a couple of HMRC-sponsored schemes that may provide the answer.

Workplace Parking Scheme

The workplace parking scheme is a 'salary sacrifice' arrangement your employees can opt into through your payroll. Basically, you buy them a parking season ticket for a guaranteed space near to the workplace, thereby securing the cost advantage of a group purchase. The employee pays you back by monthly payroll deductions. Apart from solving your staff's parking at work headaches, the huge benefit of this arrangement is that the employee saves money as their deductions are tax and NI free. The even better news is that you save employer's NI on their payments too. In other words, everyone wins.

Cycle to Work Scheme

Cycling has seen a huge rise in popularity in this country in recent years. When questioned, many people agree that they would like to switch to cycling to work rather than struggle along waiting for a bus or finding a parking space. They also cite the health benefits cycling offers them and the reduction in their individual carbon footprint.

When questioned, many people agree that they would like to switch to cycling to work rather than struggle along waiting for a bus or finding a parking space.

One of the main obstacles, however, is the initial cost; not just the cost of a bike, but the expense of buying a good helmet and other necessary equipment. The cycle to work scheme offers a solution. Working on the same principle as other salary sacrifice arrangements, this scheme covers an upfront cost of up to one thousand pounds for a bicycle and related equipment. The employee repays this by easy monthly payroll deductions, with the added advantage of tax and NI relief on the amount of salary 'sacrificed'.

From the employer's point of view, the good news is that scheme provides savings on NI payments and a healthier, happier employee who is, therefore, less likely to take time off sick. Taken together both these schemes offer a means to resolve a major problem your employees face each day and the opportunity to enhance your reputation as a good employer.

Author: Eoin Olivers photo

Author: Eoin Oliver

Eoin Oliver is a web designer and blogger with six years of experience writing content and designing graphics for clients large and small. For the past three years Eoin has been focused on researching and writing about the childcare voucher scheme. When not hard at work, Eoin can be found in the company of his 4-legged companion Layla.

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