Vansdirect partnership reaches 12 month milestone with Fleet Packs

Vansdirect partnership reaches 12 month milestone with Fleet Packs

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Vansdirect partnership reaches 12 month milestone with Fleet Packs

At the Fleet Adviser we’re always on the lookout for innovative companies to offer products and solutions that enhance any business fleet. The guys over at Cheshire-based Fleet Packs are certainly a great example of this. 

As further re-iteration of this, the award-winning van leasing broker Vansdirect have just celebrated their 1-year partnership with Fleet Packs.

The leasing giant see the enhanced value that Fleet Packs can provide to their vehicles, offering greater safety and durability. 

Vans work hard through their life, and our customers spend many hours a day in their vans. Wear and tear is an inevitability. So our bespoke Fleet Packs are designed to protect the fabric of the cabin from damage but to also protect the driver and passengers in the unfortunate event of an incident or breakdown.

For our customers who finance their vans through contract hire or finance lease, this protection is even more valuable when it comes to end of life damage costs or residual values.

Jonathan Pearce, marketing manager, Vansdirect

Fleet Packs determination to provide a tailored service to each of their clients goes way above and beyond just providing accessories. 

The items available cover a wide range of fleet safety and protection items, from branded RV Protection to help protect against wear & tear, to driver safety and well-being itemssuch as hi-vis jackets, fire extinguishers, first-aid kits and hazard triangles – to branded literature and reporting, all of which helping safeguard the immediate, mid and long-term futures of your vehicles and drivers.

If you would like to find out more about the items available and how Fleet Packs could enhance your fleet, visit their website clicking the button below. 

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Willmott Dixon Wins Cash Allowance for Grey Fleet Claim Against HMRC

Willmott Dixon Wins Cash Allowance for Grey Fleet Claim Against HMRC

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Willmott Dixon Wins Cash Allowance for Grey Fleet Claim Against HMRC

FTT Decides Car Allowance Payments Were Earnings With “Relevant Motoring Expenditure”.

In what is a landmark ruling for fleets, a First Tier Tribunal has ruled in favour of Leading Construction & Property firm Wilmott Dixon over car allowance payments for “grey fleet” vehicles in which payments were made to its employees.

Initially HMRC had refused to refund Willmott Dixon for NICs paid from 2004/05 to May 2014 relating to car allowance payments made by the firm.

However, the ruling means that the payments made to its employees were ‘relevant motoring expenditure’ and therefore should qualify for relief from Class 1 National Insurance Contributions (NICs).

Payments Based on Grade

Car allowances from Willmott Dixon, which was represented by Innovation Professional Services, were paid to employees based on a grade which was allocated to that employee.

This meant that the amount paid did not depend on the number of business miles driven by an employee, but rather their grade – based on seniority.

The actual business miles driven were reimbursed to an employee in the form of a separate business mileage payment.

Where an employee from a certain grade chose to select a car from a lower grade choice list, they could be reimbursed the difference in the car allowance for those grades.

Meanwhile, some individuals who drove no business miles were awarded a grade and allowances were paid even when an employee was ill (including long-term sick) or their business miles reduced because, for example, of the pandemic.

Use of the Car Allowance

The purpose of the car allowance was to ensure that an employee had a properly insured, maintained and reliable motor vehicle available for business use – defined broadly as a vehicle which could be used for performing his or her duties as an employee.

Furthermore, an employee who received the car allowance was obliged to have a fit and proper vehicle for business use. That didn’t mean however, that the employee HAD to use the car allowance for that purpose.

Where an employee didn’t have an adequate vehicle, Willmott Dixon expected the employee to use the allowance to acquire one. However, there was no contractual or obligation otherwise to use the allowance for this.

Similarly, where an employee was already in possession of a satisfactory vehicle, then Willmott Dixon anticipated that the allowance would be paid on the financing, maintenance and costs of insurance and any other ongoing costs. But again, there was no contractual or other obligation to do so.

The employee was free to decide on what they spent the car allowance, and it could be spent on something wholly unrelated to the vehicle or its use for business travel.

The court heard that Willmott Dixon undertook a “rigorous analysis” of the underlying data and set the level of the allowances on the basis that an employee did 10,000 business miles per year.

Their analysis revealed that such an employee would be in the same financial position whether they opted for the car allowance or chose a company car.

The Verdict – Car allowance payments were “relevant motoring expenditure”.

The FTT had to first decide whether the car allowance payments were earnings for NICs purposes or reimbursements of business expenses.

Given the amount of car allowance paid did not depend on the number of business miles driven by that particular employee, the FTT decided that the car allowance payments were earnings.

The key factor though is that also decided that the earnings were “relevant motoring expenditure” – citing the Court of Appeal decision in favour of Total People (now Cheshire Employment and Skills) almost 10 years ago on a similar matter.

At the same time, the verdict also contradicted a more recent decision involving Laing O’Rourke (LOR).

Total People

Total People’s had a long-running legal battle with HMRC in relation to an NI refund.

Their claim was based on the difference between the HMRC 40p per mile (ppm) approved mileage allowance payment (AMAP) rate (now 45p) and the 12ppm paid by the employer plus an additional lump sum paid to the employees for using their private cars on business.

The value of the amount claimed by Total People was approximately £146,000 which equated to £1,000 per employee. This was subsequently paid by HMRC.

Laing O’Rourke

Laing O’Rourke lost a £2.2 million claim for relief on grey fleet business mileage payments paid to employees at its firm.

Laing O’Rourke argued that its car allowance scheme should qualify for relief from NICs on payments made to employees.

HMRC said relief did not apply because the payments could not be defined as “relevant motoring expenditure.”

Judge Tracey Bowler reached a decision last July, ruling in favour of HMRC.

The Willmott Dixon Tribunal Verdict

It seems that being able to determine the expenses as “relevant motoring expenditure” was the crucial factor in the decision.

On reaching a decision in the Willmott Dixon case, Judge Nigel Popplewell said:

“I totally appreciate that the way in which these payments were made and the amounts of the payments were based not on actual business use but on grades, and those grades, in turn, did not reflect actual business use but seniority.

“A similar arrangement was in place in Laing O’Rourke and this was another reason why Judge Bowler thought that similar payments in that case to the car allowances in this, were not made in respect of use. I respectfully disagree.”

“The evidence shows that in order to receive the allowances an employee was obliged to have a private vehicle available for business use.”

Laing O’Rourke has appealed its FTT decision.

With regards to the FTT decision in the Willmott Dixon case, HMRC are yet to decide whether to appeal or not.

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Use of a Mobile Phone or Hand-held Device Whilst Driving

Use of a Mobile Phone or Hand-held Device Whilst Driving

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Use of a Mobile Phone or Hand-held Device Whilst Driving

New Regulations For Use of Mobile Phone & Hand-Held Devices Whilst Driving Explained

New regulations come into force on 25th March 2022, called the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) (Amendment) (No.2) Regulations 2022 in relation to the use of Mobile Phones & Hand Devices whilst driving. Here we asked motoring law specialists Morton’s Solicitors of Stockport to explain more about the regulations.

What is changing?

These regulations amend the definition of hand-held devices; these are the definitions that will be used to govern the use of mobile phones and devices by drivers.

What is the offence?

It is an offence for a person to drive a motor vehicle on a road if he is using a mobile phone or a hand-held device (as described in the regulations). It is also an offence to do so if you are the supervisor of a provisional licence holder.

What does the current law regarding the use of mobile phones & hand-held devices state?

At the moment, the law says that a mobile phone or hand-held device cannot be used while driving a vehicle. A hand-held device is defined as a device other than a two-way radio, which performs an interactive communication function by transmitting and receiving data.

A phone or device is treated as hand-held if it is or must be, held at some point during the course of making or receiving a call or performing any other interactive communication function.

An interactive communication function includes:

• Sending or receiving oral or written messages;
• Sending or receiving facsimile documents;
• Sending or receiving still or moving images;
• Providing access to the internet.

What does the new law state?

The amendment substantially extends both the definition of a device and also the use of one.

Hand-held devices will be defined as a device, other than a two-way radio, which is capable of transmitting and receiving data, whether or not those capabilities are enabled.

A phone or device will be treated as hand-held in the same way as in the current law, but with an important amendment. The amended regulation will say the device will be treated as hand-held if it is, or must be, held while being used.

The word ‘using’ will include:

1. Illuminating the screen;
2. Checking the time;
3. Checking notifications;
4. Unlocking the device;
5. Making, receiving, or rejecting a telephone or internet-based call;
6. Sending, receiving, or uploading oral or written contact;
7. Sending, receiving or uploading a photo or video;
8. Utilising camera, video or sound recording functionality;
9. Drafting any text;
10. Accessing any stored data such as documents, books, audio files, photos, videos, films, playlists, notes or messages;
11. Accessing an application; or
12. Accessing the internet.

This list is far more extensive than the list under current law, which comes under interactive communication function.

It should also be easier for the public to understand what they can and, more importantly can’t, do with a phone whilst the driver of a vehicle.

Defences

A device can be used in certain circumstances. Under current law, these circumstances are calling the emergency services, acting in response to a genuine emergency or if it is unsafe or impracticable for the user to cease driving in order to make the call.

In addition, the regulation is not contravened if the driver is using the device to perform a remote-controlled parking function in particular circumstances.

The amendment takes into account advances in technology and provides that a device can also be used for a contactless payment made at a contactless payment terminal.

Penalty

The offence carries six penalty points with a maximum fine of £1000 (or £2500 if a goods vehicle or vehicle adapted to carry more than eight passengers).

In the case of a person who has had a full driving licence for less than two years, this would mean the loss of a licence.

Contacting Morton’s Solicitors

If you have any questions relating to this or any other motoring law issues or offences, Morton’s Solicitors can be contacted on 0161 477 1121 or you click on the button below to find out about their motoring law services.  

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Greater Manchester Clean Air Zone Put on Hold

Greater Manchester Clean Air Zone Put on Hold

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Greater Manchester Clean Air Zone Put on Hold

GM Clean Air Zone Faces Uncertain Future As It’s Placed On Hold

The warning road-signs are already up, but a last-minute referal to Westminster following a huge backlash from local businesses and drivers means that the Greater Manchester Clean Air Zone has been put on hold.

Under-fire Prime Minister Boris Johnson visited the North West last week and voiced his concerns that the GM CAZ was unworkable – despite it being a legal requirement that the area “cleaned up” it’s emission levels.

News then broke on late on Friday just gone, that Greater Manchester Mayor – Andy Burnham – had been told that the scheme could be placed on hold for further consultation – with a revised plan due now in July. 

In a statement from the Government, it said;

“This will allow Greater Manchester to provide further evidence and a revised plan by July, setting out how it will deliver legal levels of NO2 [nitrogen dioxide] as soon as possible, and no later than 2026.

“In making this decision, the environment secretary has made it clear that it is his priority to fulfil the government’s legal obligations to deliver compliance with NO2 limits in the shortest time possible.”

What this means for the Greater Manchester Clean Air Zone

Whilst this postponement may come as welcome news for local businesses there are a couple of points worth considering with this news. 

Firstly, the decision is sure to garner some positive PR for the PM and his much-maligned Government. 

The costs of the Great Manchester Clean Air Zone were between £7.50 to as much as £60 a day for some vehicles that didn’t meet the required standards.

For businesses operating smaller fleets of older vehicles, this was potentially going to be leaving them liable to significant out-goings.

On top of the financial impact of Covid, the groundswell of opinion was that these CAZ costs would pose a serious threat to many smaller businesses. 

In addition to this – the current climate in the automotive industry means that finding replacement vehicles is difficult enough – even if there was the willing to change.

By allowing more time for consideration of alternate plans, businesses can have a bit more breathing space.

The reality is though that something has to be done sooner rather than later. The issues that brought about the plan in the first place remain. 

Greater Manchester has a legal obligation to meet emission levels.

How serious are the emission levels in Greater Manchester?

Very. 

Greater Manchester’s emission levels have been illegal for over a decade. 

Currently there are FIFTY-TWO stretches of road across the region which break the legal limits for nitrogen oxide. 

Needless to say Green Campaigners are not happy with the decision and are pushing for something to be done. 

A group of environmental lawyers – Client Earth – have said the postponement is “concerning” and are considering legal action if improvements to the emission levels aren’t made. 

So what next?

The reality is that the authority in Greater Manchester and Andy Burnham has a couple of months to come up with an alternative plan. 

Funding has already started to be handed out to businesses to replace vehicles. However it may be that the request for more funding is put in. 

Many of those who don’t qualify for the funding are still left in a situation of flux though.

As already mentioned, the supply issues surrounding new vehicles are still huge and impacting on the second hand vehicle market. 

Other Clean Air Zones

In terms of the future of the Greater Manchester Clean Air Zone and for other clean air zones across the UK, things may have become somewhat clouded by this decision.

Similar zones are already in operation in Birmingham and Bath. London is operating it’s expanded ULEZ low emission zone and other cities are looking to introduce similar Clean Air Zones this year.

Whilst it seems like that the scheme is going to launch in Greater Manchester in some way, at some point – what that will now look like is uncertain.

One options could be an extended period of grace to allow businesses to fund and find compliant vehicles. 

Whatever happens though, the reality is that nothing will be done. The issue surround the NO2 levels won’t go away without some intervention.

As well as a legal obligation to tackle the NO2 levels, the Government and leaders of other cities in line for similar CAZ’s will be keen for Greater Manchester to come up with it’s revised plan as soon as possible.

DID YOU KNOW? : You can keep upto date with the Greater Manchester Clean Air Zone news and all the other Clean Air Zones and Low Emission Zones with our Vehicle Guide – “Clean Air Zone” section. Click the button below to find out more.

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The Changes to the Highway Code Your Drivers Need To Be Aware Of…

The Changes to the Highway Code Your Drivers Need To Be Aware Of…

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The Changes to the Highway Code Your Drivers Need To Be Aware Of…

The Recent Changes to the Highway Code that could catch drivers out.

On Saturday 29th January, changes to the Highway Code came into affect which, if gone unchecked, could result in more traffic offences for drivers – or worse still, accidents which lead to injuries and fatalities. 

That rather doomsday scenario is somewhat ironic given the changes brought in are designed to help improve safety for all road users. But the reality is, that without an awareness of the changes made, the risks are there.

So what are the changes brought about and how do they affect you, or your company’s drivers?

We take a look at the recent changes to the Highway Code that are most likely to have an affect.

Hierarchy of Road Users

At the beginning of the Highway Code, 3 new rules have been introduced which set-out the Hierarchy of Road Users.

Before looking at this, it’s worth explaining the context behind some of these changes.

The Hierarchy of Road Users is part of a raft of changes to the Highway Code to give greater consideration to pedestrians, cyclists and riders of horses.

The objective is to provide a greater clarity to provide greater safety for ALL road users.

So, with the introduction of these 3 new rules from the outset, the Hierarchy of Road Users sets out the priority of road users. They also highlight the need for ALL road users to be aware of and considerate to other road users.

The rules also focus on clarifying the priority of road users at crossings and at junctions – the latter of which may surprise some of you – but more on this in a second.

It certainly is worth reading these 3 new rules first as they definitely set the tone of what is to come.

People Crossing at Junctions

When should you let pedestrians cross at a junction? For many drivers, they will wave a pedestrian across more out of a gesture of kindness – many drivers will turn into / out of a junction blind to the fact someone is waiting to cross.

Under the Highway Code, drivers, horse riders and cyclists should now give way to pedestrians waiting to cross a road at a junction.

The updated code states;

  • when people are crossing or waiting to cross at a junction, other traffic should give way
  • if people have started crossing and traffic wants to turn into the road, the people crossing have priority and the traffic should give way
  • people driving, riding a motorcycle or cycling must give way to people on a zebra crossing and people walking and cycling on a parallel crossing

Being honest, giving way to someone who has started to cross should be a bit of a given. However, the fact it is now highlighted in the Code would unfortunately suggest it perhaps isn’t as obvious as it may seem.

Positioning in the Road When Cycling

Some of you will be cyclists yourselves and know of the perils of being a road user as a cyclist. The fact is though that cyclists are the subject of much debate as road users.

What is clear is that any issues involving cyclists seems to stem from one thing, a fundamental lack of knowledge of how a cyclist should use the road – and this is either on the part of the driver or of the cyclist.

changes to highway code looks at cyclists position on the road

So where should a cyclist be – and can they ride 2 abreast?

The Highway Code explains;

For cyclists who are cycling by themselves

  • riding in the centre of their lane on quiet roads, in slower-moving traffic and at the approach to junctions or road narrowings
  • keeping at least 0.5 metres (just over 1.5 feet) away from the kerb edge (and further where it is safer) when riding on busy roads with vehicles moving faster than them

And what of those cycling in groups?

  • cyclists should be considerate of the needs of other road users when riding in groups
  • cyclists can ride 2 abreast – and it can be safer to do so, particularly in larger groups or when accompanying children or less experienced riders

“People cycling are asked to be aware of people driving behind them and allow them to overtake (for example, by moving into single file or stopping) when it’s safe to do so.”

What’s really important here though is that by drivers understanding how cyclists should be considering their position on the road, this can then help minimise the risk for all concerned – particularly when it comes to…

Overtaking Cyclists / Horse Riders

As car and van drivers, we’re in possession of some pretty lethal kit when it comes down to it.

By understanding the entitlement of other road users, drivers need to be thinking about protecting more vulnerable road users – not using our bigger, more powerful vehicles as a way of stamping any perceived authority down on them.

With that in mind, overtaking cyclists and horse riders needs to be done in a considerate, careful manner.

To help with this, the Highway Code now highlights;

“You may cross a double-white line if necessary (provided the road is clear) to overtake someone cycling or riding a horse if they are travelling at 10 mph or less (Rule 129).”

Guidance on safe passing distances and speeds for people driving or riding a motorcycle when overtaking vulnerable road users, includes:

  • leaving at least 1.5 metres (5 feet) when overtaking people cycling at speeds of up to 30mph, and giving them more space when overtaking at higher speeds
  • passing people riding horses or driving horse-drawn vehicles at speeds under 10 mph and allowing at least 2 metres (6.5 feet) of space
  • allowing at least 2 metres (6.5 feet) of space and keeping to a low speed when passing people walking in the road (for example, where there’s no pavement)

The code also requires drivers to;

Wait behind them and do not overtake if it’s unsafe or not possible to meet these clearances.”

People Cycling Straight Ahead At Junctions

One of the common flashpoints is when a vehicle is turning at a junction and a cyclist needs to go straight ahead.

To tackle this, the code now clarifies that when someone is cycling straight ahead at a junction, they have priority of someone wanting to turn into – or out of – a side road (unless markings or signs indicate otherwise).

The code also adds a cautionary note to cyclists to be aware that drivers up ahead may not have seen them and to be careful of drivers cutting across their path.

Cyclists and Horse Riders on a Roundabout

The code has now been updated to state that drivers and motor cyclists on a roundabout should;

  • not attempt to overtake people cycling within that person’s lane
  • allow people cycling to move across their path as they travel around the roundabout

The code already explained that people cycling, riding a horse and driving a horse-drawn vehicle can stay in the left-hand lane on a roundabout if they intend to continue across or around the roundabout.

However, with these recent changes to the Highway Code, guidance has now been added to explain that people driving should take extra care when entering a roundabout.

Drivers are told to make sure they do not cut across people cycling, riding a horse or driving a horse-drawn vehicle who are continuing around the roundabout in the left-hand lane.

Parking, charging and leaving vehicles

charging electric cars and changes to highway code

Finally, a further interesting addition to the Highway Code is also a sign of the times. 

The recent changes to the Highway Code now factor in guidance for parking, charging and leaving vehicles.

Leaving a vehicle might not be something you would think you need guidance on, but the code now recommends a technique for doing so – often refered to as “Dutch Reach”.

According to the Gov.UK website;

“Where people driving or passengers in a vehicle are able to do so, they should open the door using their hand on the opposite side to the door they are opening. For example, using their left hand to open a door on their right-hand side.

This will make them turn their head to look over their shoulder behind them. They’re then less likely to cause injury to:

  • people cycling or riding a motorcycle passing on the road
  • people on the pavement”

In addition to this, the parking and charging of electric vehicles is also referenced in the changes to the Highway Code too. 

The code now makes reference to those using EV Chargepoints, suggesting drivers should:

  • park close to the charge point and avoid creating a trip hazard for people walking from trailing cables
  • display a warning sign if you can
  • return charging cables and connectors neatly to minimise the danger to other people and avoid creating an obstacle for other road users

We hope you have found this article useful. Please do share it across your social media accounts or directly with anyone who you think might find it useful.

Over the coming weeks we will be looking at major changes being announced in relation to mobile phone use. We will also be looking into the legalities for the use of automated / self-driving vehicles, so please do keep an eye out for those.

Your Comments.

What do you make of the changes to the Highway Code outlined above? Are they a surprise to you or do you do these things already? Are there any changes to the Highway Code you would like to see? Please feel free to leave your comments in the section at the very bottom of this article. 

 

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When is the right time to change to EV as a business owner?

When is the right time to change to EV as a business owner?

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When is the right time to change to EV as a business owner?

Chris Lindsay of First-EVC – Why now is the right time for businesses to change to EV

Is it now time to have a greener and more cost-effective approach to transport within your organisation? We spoke to Chris Lindsay – co-founder of First-EVC to explain why he believes there’s never been a better time than now to consider switching.

Business Responsibility

“Global warming will be a major challenge over the next 20 years.” Chris explains. “As a responsible business we can help reduce the impact of global warming by changing to EV and realising some commercial benefits.”

As many of you will know, the change to EV is inevitable – and unavoidable. Production of combustion engine vehicles will cease by 2030 – but already many manufacturers are concentrating their production efforts on EV.

This evolution has been sped up because of the realisation the impact of combustion engines have on the environment is stark.

The benefits of being a responsible business to the environment aren’t the only reason to switch though… 

Other Commercial Benefits of Switching to EV.

Many businesses have used their switch to EV as a huge positive PR angle. Being seen to be green has great kudos at the moment – particularly if a business is seen to be “ahead of the curve”.

But switching to EV goes beyond being a PR opportunity or being the right thing to do. Switching to EV has other commercial benefits.

“A business can set the full cost of an electric vehicle asset against profits in the year of the purchase of the car, if it satisfies certain criteria of emitting 0 g/km.”  Chris explains, before continuing This can help reduce the Corporation Tax bill whilst reducing the businesses overall CO2 emissions, realising corporate goals.”

And what of the running costs. Are there benefits there too?

“Absolutely. The running cost of electric cars is significantly less than the equivalent petrol / diesel vehicle which ultimately reduces the businesses operation costs. With the average UK electricity price sitting at around 17.2p per kWh. If you assume an electric car will travel 3.5 miles per kWh on average, to travel 100 miles would cost around £5 or 4.91p per mile.”

And how does that compare?

“A petrol car would cost around £12 or 12p per mile if fuel cost £1.34 per litre and we assume the UK’s average new car fuel consumption was 49.2 miles-per-gallon. This is a significant saving over the life of the car.”

Whilst this is only an indication and those amounts may vary slightly – fuel costs are currently spiralling – and so it does give an invaluable insight as to why this is also an excellent time to switch to EV vehicles.

Once you have made the change, how can you charge your Electric Vehicle?

So making the switch to electric vehicles does seem somewhat of a no-brainer. But it doesn’t end there. The next consideration for a business needs to be vehicle charging.

Many EV users will look to have charging solutions at home. But this isn’t always possible. Having a Charging Scheme at the workplace is something businesses should also be considering – as Chris explains.

“Business Owners can apply for a Workplace Charging Scheme grant up to a maximum of 40 sockets (£350 per socket) equating to a total saving of £14,000.”

And it’s with thanks to companies like Chris’ that the prospect of applying for grants or installing EV charge points needs to be as daunting as it may seem right now.

“Here at First EVC, we can help reduce the headache of installing EV charging points within your organisation.”

“We offer a turn-key solution to help our customers realise their environmental and green goals. This means we can offer a complete service from initial funding to on-going support. Our services include :-

    • Help securing the government grant
    • Survey your site/s
    • Complete any Ground Works
    • Conduct the EV changing Installation
    • Commission the charging points
    • Maintenance
    • Software management and any billing requirements.”

With many financial incentives still available starting to get your ducks in a row on this now makes complete sense.

It is probably equally important as switching to EV is in working with a company who can take away the stress and complexity of making the switch seem less daunting.

Undoubtedly one of the biggest hurdles stopping businesses at the moment is uncertainty. That is why working with companies like First-EVC makes sense. Having support and advice tailored to your business needs will help ensure you get the biggest benefits, and ensuring you don’t miss out. 

That in itself has to be at least worth a conversation to discuss your options?

If you require any help or advice then Chris at First-EVC can be contacted on 0161 519 7998 or you can request more information by emailing info@first-evc.net. Alternatively have a look at their website by clicking the button below.

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5 Vehicle Shows Fleet Managers (and Suppliers) Should Have In Their Diaries for 2022.

5 Vehicle Shows Fleet Managers (and Suppliers) Should Have In Their Diaries for 2022.

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5 Vehicle Shows Fleet Managers (and Suppliers) Should Have In Their Diaries for 2022.

Get Ahead in 2022 – The Vehicle Shows You Need To Check Out. 

The world of fleet vehicles and management is always evolving.

With the current push for electrification and introduction of more intuitive management tools, training options, staff wellbeing and everything else to keep an eye out for, keeping upto date with what’s around the corner can be difficult in the day-to-day running of your business.

That is why attending some of the many exhibitions and shows gives you the time to help you get ahead of the curve. 

Here we take a look at 5 trade shows coming up this year that are well worth checking out. 

1.  Commercial Vehicle Show – 24th – 26th May – NEC Birmingham

One of the more popular trade shows, the Commercial Vehicle Show (CV Show) gives access to 100s of exhibitors from across the commercial vehicle world to decision makers. 

Electrification will be huge on the agenda, but the show offers much more.

From training opportunities to legislation and dealing with issues from trading in Europe, the show has something for everyone.

With the opportunity for visitors to ;

  • Meet existing suppliers
  • Connect with new suppliers
  • Source innovation and ideas
  • Upskill from new training

The show is free to attend for visitors. For more information, you can visit their website by clicking the button below.

2.  Vehicle Electrification Expo – 29th – 30th June – NEC Birmingham

Bringing together the entire supply chain for the hybrid and electric vehicle market, this show is aimed at those within the automotive industry. 

Attracting around 300 exhibitors and thousands of visitors, the show gives a valuable insight into the developments in the EV marketplace. 

This is a free conference to attend. Find out more about the show by clicking the button below.

3.  The British Motor Show – 19th – 22nd August – Farnborough

This iconic motor show is more than just a trade show. It celebrates all things motor as the 4 day event looks at the past, present and future of motoring in the UK.

An occasion for all the family, this is a more informal show, but whilst there is something for all the family, it still has plenty that will be of value for you in your day-to-day role.

There is a huge section looking at the future tech of vehicles and technology in the pipeline.

This show is an excellent option if you want something a bit more engaging and less formal.

Tickets for the show start from £18.50 single day ticket for an adult or a family ticket of £37 gets 2 adults and 2 kids in. Kids under 3 go for free. For more details visit the website by clicking the button below.

4. Fleet Live – 11th – 12th October – NEC Birmingham

The Fleet & Mobility Live show at the NEC in Birmingham is in a similar vein to the CV Show. 

Run by Fleet News, the show brings together main players from the world of fleet. From car manufacturers to every part of the supply chain you can think of (and then some you probably haven’t thought of yet!). 

We attended the show last year (and will be there this year too) and met some excellent contacts who have been helpful to our continued growth. 

The show is free to attend and well worth a visit. To register your interest please click the button below.

5. London EV Show – 29th November – 1st December – ExCel London

As the name would suggest, the London EV Show is for all-things EV.

Using a combination of live, in-person and virtual exhibitions and presentations, the London EV Show aims to “seamless networking & business matchmaking platform to EV enthusiasts”.

With the event bringing together all the key players across the entire EV supply chain, if you are looking to electrification of your fleet in the next 18 months or within the EV sector, this event could be the one place you head this year. 

To find out more about the show and registering your interest in buying a delegate pass, visit the London EV website by clicking the button below.

 

Here’s to an exciting 2022! 

We will be attending some, if not all of these events so please be to sure to stop and say hello if you see us. If you are attending any other events you think are worthy of a mention, feel free to leave a comment at the bottom of this article.

 

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Ben – Vital Support for the Automotive Industry

Ben – Vital Support for the Automotive Industry

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Ben – Vital Support for the Automotive Industry

Supporting the Lifeblood of the Automotive Industry – The Role of Ben

Ben is a charity who have been providing support to workers in the automotive industry for over 100 years. With a strong focus on mental health and wellbeing, the festive season is a notorious time for exacerbating issues. In this article, we want to raise awareness of their work in the hope that more lives can be helped at this difficult time for many across the automotive sector.

Before we look into Ben as an organisation though, I feel there needs to be a little more context here and why their role is so crucial – especially right now.

Recognising the importance of staff wellbeing.

There can be little doubt that staff wellbeing is a massively important issue, particularly in the here and now.

We are currently facing another wave of the Covid virus that has wreaked havoc across the globe for the best part of two years. Needless to say, the impact on jobs and people’s lives is far-reaching.

The problem is, many reports carried out during the pandemic – and particularly after the first wave last year – are highlighting that wellbeing in the workplace needs a “radical” rethink by employers like never before.

Many issues have been accelerated by the pandemic – and yet the evidence also suggests there are still many employers with little idea as to what wellbeing means, let alone what an effective programme should look like.

It is crucial that businesses acknowledge that wellbeing needs to be agile, data driven and continually considering its people’s needs. By not knowing the numbers, the effectiveness of any wellbeing programme is greatly diminished.

There also needs to be an understanding that wellbeing isn’t just focussing on mental health. The wellbeing of a workforce impacts on both physical and mental health – and that the two are often intertwined.

The benefits of staff wellbeing for an employer.

As well as being the right thing to do for its workforce on a human level, for any business that does invest and embrace positive wellbeing and health, they can expect to be rewarded in the bottom line on the balance sheet.

Growing evidence suggests that for every £1 invested, an employer could expect to receive £5 back in reduced absence, improved employee engagement and overall productivity.

For businesses in the automotive industry, working with charities like Ben can help put an effective wellbeing strategy in place and provide immediate access to a wealth of resources that can help them and their employees deal with a variety of life’s challenges in a variety of ways.

So what is Ben?

From the beginning.

Incredibly, Ben was founded back in 1905 – when there just a few hundred vehicles on the road. Set up by A J Wilson whilst he was working for Dunlop tyres, they were originally named the Cycle Trades Benevolent Fund. The word “Motor” was later added to the name as the popularity in cars grew.

Right from the get-go though, the fund’s aim was to help those who worked in the trade who fell on hard times. Remember, there was no welfare system in place until after the Second World War, so the fund helped those in need by issuing a series of grants through a network of local offices.

Over the years, other benevolent funds were amalgamated – including funds for coachbuilders and agricultural engineering trades – and formed “Ben” – which today supports people from right across the automotive sector and its allied trades.

A huge landmark for the organisation came in 1948 when Ben opened its first residential care home at Lynwood Court in Ascot, Berkshire. In 1972 it also became Ben’s HQ, where they are still based today.

Today, Ben has 3 residential care centres in the UK, whilst its health and wellbeing support service provides far more than grants these days. The core function though remains the same – supporting those in need.

The role of Ben in 2021.

Ben making positive differences to peoples lives

In 2021, the role of Ben has had to evolve to meet the demands of modern living and societal changes. As we’ve said, the on-going Covid pandemic is undoubtedly one of the biggest issues – if not the main issue – businesses in the automotive industry are facing at the moment.

In addition to this, it is said that 1 in 4 people can experience mental health issues at any one time with the added pressures of workload and the continual demands across the automotive industry.

Being available

The heightened awareness of mental health issues and wellbeing is encouraging more and more people to realise they may have an issue.

Recognising the issue is an important first step. Unfortunately accessing support isn’t always easy if people don’t know where to find it. The conventional route of support from a GP can take some time even in normal circumstances. During the pandemic, those waiting times have extended further still.

What help is available?

Working with individuals

Once someone reaches out, Ben uses its ‘MyLife’ Wellbeing areas to identify what support an individual needs.

The ‘MyLife’ areas are;

  • MyHome
  • MyNetwork
  • MyMoney
  • MyLifestyle
  • MyEmotions
  • MySelf

Covering such a broad spectrum of issues, the levels of support available are tailored to the individuals particular needs within the ‘MyLife’ remit.

In such difficult times, financial support is called on for many things. From paying household bills, and support for medical costs to helping encourage better money management, Ben have the resources to help ease financial burden.

For those who are going through tough times whether it’s at home or work, or are dealing with personal trauma, loss, or are struggling with issues around anxiety or depression – Ben can offer counselling and talking therapies through its Life Coaching service – the results of which are incredible in having people make significant positive life changes.

In addition to these services for those working in the automotive sector, Ben also offers support to their families and those closest to service users. 

Ben’s website (link provided at the end of this article) is packed full of tools and advice to help individuals take the first steps, as well as provide more information about the different services available.

Working with Businesses

Perhaps one of the most significant aspects of Ben’s role is to help businesses in the automotive industry achieve a greater understanding in their employee’s wellbeing and health – and the role they should play. 

The benefits for the business have already been mentioned, but in reality, everyone benefits if many issues can be identified and worked on at company level.

Ben has recently entered a new partnership with wellness experts Wellonomics – to provide a customised platform that will give businesses access to tools to review employees’ health and wellbeing.

The platform gathers anonymous data and allows for monthly online assessments to be submitted – thus helping the company to really drill into the numbers and identify areas of concern and focus for improvement. 

Whilst this project is due to launch in 2022, Ben already offers many incredible resources that automotive businesses can tap into. 

Ben currently offers training to employers focussed on health and wellbeing. There is also a Critical Response Service which supports employers with employee issues of an urgent nature – such as loss of life or traumatic events, self-harm or safeguarding or circumstances related to complex health needs or disability.

Ben also uses its close links with businesses to help raise general awareness of their other services including Ben’s helpline, support service, specialist support for mental health with the provision of SilverCloud – (Ben’s digital CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) platform) – its counselling services, talking therapies and other specialist therapies as well as it’s life coaching service. 

Working closely with businesses is something Ben is firmly committed to and as we move into 2022, those links are certain to get stronger.

Who are the people behind Ben?

The services provided by Ben relies on the quality, determination and dedication of its people. From a strong leadership team as well as it’s specialists and volunteers, everyone helps to get the necessary support to those in need.

Headed up by CEOZara Ross, Health & Wellbeing DirectorRachel Clift and Director of Partnerships, Engagement and Income –  Matt WiggingtonBen has an experienced team around them to help deal with today’s challenges.

The Fundraiser, Donor Management & Events Team are tasked with raising the funds to help Ben provide the support and initiatives it does – as well as generating awareness and engagement within the automotive sector.

It was indeed at such an event – the CV Show at the NEC in September that we attended where we first spoke to representatives from Ben about the work they do – giving us the idea for this feature.

The Business Development team are crucial to securing those business relationships already talked about. In doing this, Ben can continue to provide the support within the automotive sector to those businesses who need it.

The Marketing team are tasked with both raising awareness and generating engagement through a variety of channels.

The last ten years or so has seen social media rise to the forefront of both awareness and engagement campaigns – giving instant access and reach to those in need. However, social media is just one of the many channels that the marketing team will use to help reach as many people as possible.

Right at the forefront of the work Ben carries out is its Frontline delivery team – from its helpline advisers, case managers and it’s clinical and non-clinical specialist roles – all of whom provide the crucial support to the service users.

Help Ben to help others

First and foremost, should you feel you need support or you’re concerned about someone else who might benefit from Ben’s support, you can reach out to Ben via their free and confidential helpline on
0808 131 1333, which is open Mon-Fri 8am to 8pm, or via email supportservices@ben.org.uk.

If you’d like to know more about Ben’s services and support, how you can promote or work in partnership with Ben, then you can also contact Ben’s Health & Wellbeing Director, Rachel Clift on 07545 162567 or rachel.clift@ben.org.uk.

Finally, Ben also relies on financial support from it’s donors. On the Ben website there is the opportunity to make a donation.

For more information about Ben, the work they do and how you could support them then please do go and check out their website by clicking the button below.

Thank you to Steve Pinchen, Ben’s Employer Partnerships Executive for helping put this together

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Fleet Managers dealing with Drink & Drug Driving issues at Christmas

Fleet Managers dealing with Drink & Drug Driving issues at Christmas

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Fleet Managers dealing with Drink & Drug Driving issues at Christmas

Why raising awareness with your drivers could save you a post-christmas headache

The festive season sees a spike in drink and drug driving related convictions. We spoke to Simon Morton of award-winning solicitors Morton’s Solicitors in Stockport about the perils of drink/drug driving – and the implications when that person is a driver as part of a fleet.

“If I said – “picture someone being caught for drink/drug driving offences”, most people often picture a scene of late at night and it’s often a young male leaving a pub or a club and getting pulled over. This however isn’t always the case – especially at this time of year.” 

Simon Morton’s firm – Morton’s Solicitors deal daily at this time of year with people caught drink and/or drug driving. 

The reasons are pretty obvious. The festive season sees more social gatherings, Christmas parties (when allowed) and other celebrations, all of which make drink and drug-driving offences more likely.

However, it is isn’t on the night that is just the issue. Simon claims that it is actually the ‘morning after’ where many drivers get caught out – and it is the mornings that are a time that many police forces will specifically target.

The morning after the night before

“Believe it or not, one of the busiest times for drink/drug driving offences are in the mornings – and not just the early hours. At this time of year many people make the decision to drive to work – or even drive as part of their work – whilst still under the influence of drinks/drugs they consumed the previous evening.” Simon reveals.

Some drivers who are caught were aware of their condition and risked it anyway, but Simon explains that this isn’t always the case.

“In many cases, the driver is unaware they are still over the legal limit for drink-driving – or are unaware of how long any drugs taken may stay in their system.”

Unfortunately, a lack of awareness isn’t a defence.

“All too often we are told that “I only had a few drinks” or even “I had a shower and a coffee and thought I’d be ok”. The fact is, being unaware doesn’t wash when it comes to the law – and for any drivers out there, the impact of a drink or drug-driving charge can have far-reaching implications – and a knock-on effect for their employers.” 

What are the implications of a drink/drug driving conviction?

“Any conviction for drink and/or drug driving carries serious implications for anyone convicted. There is often a significant fine – but more importantly the offences carry a mandatory driving ban of at least 12 months, and can carry a prison sentence too. And of course, there is the potential risk to life.”

how does this impact on fleet managers and businesses reliant on ITs drivers?

“If your business relies on its drivers then the last thing you want to be doing is losing staff this way – particularly at this time of year which, for some businesses, can be heavily dependent on the availability of their drivers. It can be difficult enough having to deal with other issues, such as illness, and of course at the moment, Covid.” 

Simon continues. “The thing is, drink/drug driving is utterly avoidable. Ultimately, the responsibility is completely on any driver to make sure they are within the limits to drive – but by fleet managers promoting a ‘none for the road’ message in line with the police forces, it can help re-inforce to the drivers their responsibility both to themselves but also to other road users.”

How does someone know if it is safe to drive the morning after?

“Whether a person is within the drink-drive limit the following morning depends on many factors. The size of the person, the amount consumed and the amount of time that has passed since the last drink.”

This makes it a judgement call.

“In reality – unless you can accurately test yourself before you drive – you really have no way of knowing. Therefore, driving a car or van after having had alcohol the night before is taking a risk. The only guaranteed way it isn’t a risk is by not drinking alcohol or taking drugs the night previously.” 

MYTHBUSTING : Can the process of getting rid of alcohol from the system be sped up?

There are many things that people will try to “speed up” getting rid of alcohol from their system – do any of them work?

“In a word, No. People might have heard that coffee, or a cold shower, or drinking lots of water helps speed things up, but whilst you might “feel” a bit better, the alcohol leaves your system at the same rate – which again depends on those factors I mentioned. Again, for fleet managers, making drivers aware of this can help them re-inforce the message that ‘none for the road’ really is the only risk-free option.”

As for drugs driving – again, the message from fleet managers really should be about reminding it’s drivers of their responsibilities.

“Drugs stay in the system even longer and different drugs stick around for different lengths of time. Really whilst it shouldn’t need fleet managers to remind their drivers about drug-taking and their responsibilities around this, the number of drivers we deal with at this time of year who are caught, would suggest that a reminder that all drug-taking should be avoided certainly wouldn’t hurt.”

What if someone is caught drink/drug driving?

Simon explains that getting legal representation at the earliest opportunity is crucial to getting the best defence in place.

“The first thing is that being taken into a police station for many people can be very daunting. It is often at this point where the driver is confused, scared, angry, worried and often without legal representation, anything said at this point can leave defence options severly limited. Police Station Representation is free of charge and should be sought immediately.”

It cannot be stated enough that defending a drink/drug driving charge is quite difficult, and it is a serious offence which could lead to a mandatory ban and even a custodial sentence. So can anything be done?

“In some cases, there are certain legal defences available, and we are happy to discuss these with anyone who is charged. When a legal defence is not possible, then we will work hard to mitigate the sentence and to help get the defendents life back on track.” 

Morton’s Solicitors are award-winning solicitors who deal with motoring offences and are on-hand with 24 hour police station representation. If you would like to find out more about their motoring conviction defence services, click on the button below.

 

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Do you know your Clean Air Zones from your LEZs or ULEZs

Do you know your Clean Air Zones from your LEZs or ULEZs

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Do you know your Clean Air Zones from your LEZs or ULEZs

Get to grips with Clean Air Zones, Low Emission Zones and ULEZ.

It might not have gone unnoticed, but businesses who regularly travel within the largest cities in the UK are facing an added cost due to the emergence of low emission zones. 

With NO2 emissions a contributing factor to hundreds of deaths in some of our biggest cities, local authorities both have a legal and moral obligation to reduce emission levels. 

To do this, a number of very similar initiatives have been introduced to combat emission levels. 

Reducing Emissions in city centres

We already had the ULEZ (Ultra-low Emission Zone) in London, whilst Glasgow introduced a Low Emission Zone for it’s buses back in 2018 – but 2021 has also seen the introduction of Clean Air Zones in Bath, Birmingham and Portsmouth – as well as an extension to the existing ULEZ.

In 2022 – even more Clean Air Zones will roll out, whilst in Scotland, there will be an expansion to the Glasgow Low Emission Zone to include all vehicles, whilst similar Low Emission Zones will be introduced in Edinburgh, Dundee and Aberdeen.

Basically – the world is FINALLY going low-emission crazy.

But as you can see, CAZs, ULEZ, LEZ (and that’s not to mention Oxford piloting a Zero Emission Zone (ZEZ)) all these letters and zones can become confusing – and if you are a business operating vehicles in one or more of these cities, planning could become quite complex and bogged down. 

Let The Fleet Adviser Help You with our Definitive Guide

To help you battle through the ever-shifting landscape of CAZs, LEZs, ULEZ and ZEZs, we have put together a useful “definitive guide” section on our Vehicle Guide Website. 

In our guide we provide; 

  • information on each individual zone including minimum requirements, when the zone goes live, what type of zone it is, a map of the zone area and links to useful websites.
  • faqs section answering some of the commonly asked questions – from how are the zones monitored to how do you pay.
  • useful links to payment portals for the relevant zones as well a link to creating a business account if you wish to register more than one vehicle for Clean Air Zones.

 

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