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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