Wednesday 29 March 2017

€140m spent on bike scheme as 90,000 get their wheels

Edel O'Connell

MORE than 90,000 bikes and accessories worth up to €139m have been sold since a plan to encourage people to cycle to work was launched.

However, the Government still has no idea how much the scheme -- which offers a tax rebate worth up to half the cost of the bike and associated gear -- is costing the Exchequer.

The 'Cycle to Work' scheme, introduced in January 2009, allows employees and employers to claim tax back when they buy a bike for cycling to work.

Yesterday, the Irish Bicycle Business Association (IBBA), which was set up this year, launched its first report on the scheme.

It revealed 90,000 bikes had been purchased through it to date generating an estimated €139m indirect and indirect sales.

It also estimates 767 jobs have been preserved or created as a result of its success.

However, there is still no way to accurately estimate the cost of the scheme to the Exchequer.

According to the Department for Finance, which oversees the scheme, there was no formal notification procedure set up for employers to tell Revenue that they were offering the scheme to employees.

The October 2008 Budget estimated it would cost €200,000 in 2009 and €400,000 last year.

The stated aim of 'Bike to Work' is to have bicycles used for 10pc of all journeys by 2020 -- or 150,000 commuters cycling to work every day.

It has led to a surge in bike stores opening up around the country with more than 50 new shops thriving on the back of its success.

However, there are fears the lucrative scheme could be axed in the forthcoming December Budget.

Ryan Hanratty, who runs the Penny Farthing Cycles on Camden Street in Dublin, said the scheme was directly responsible for the success of his business.

"Now that people are getting anything up to a 62pc discount they are spending at least €500 to €1,000," he added.

Mr Hanratty said the bike shop has doubled its staff from three to six as a result of the scheme, and said if it were to be axed it would spell disaster for his business.

Irish Independent

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