Tuesday 26 September 2017

Civil servants lead the charge with Cycle to Work scheme

Valerie Loftus

MORE than a third of employees in some Government departments have availed of the Cycle to Work scheme since its launch in 2009.

The Department of Environment leads the charge, with 37.5pc of its staff availing of the scheme.

Under the scheme, employers can purchase a bike and safety accessories on behalf of an employee, who then pays the amount back through salary deductions over 12 months.

Bikes and equipment worth up to €1,000 purchased under the scheme are exempt from taxation.

Almost 30pc of staff across the Department of Education & Skills, the State Exams Commission and the Department of Transport choose to cycle to work under the scheme.

Just over 23pc of staff in the Department of Justice have taken advantage of it since it began, while almost 21pc of staff in the Department of Health and the Jobs Department cycle to work under the scheme.

Take-up in the Department of the Taoiseach and the Department of Defence stands at over 17pc respectively, while at the Department of Foreign Affairs, 14pc of staff have used the scheme.

LOWEST

The lowest percentages are in the Department of Social Protection and the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, with just 3pc of staff in both departments using the scheme.

In total, over 2,900 employees of Government departments have availed of the Cycle to Work scheme since it began in January 2009.

It was launched in a bid to reduce traffic congestion.

The Government's aim is to make bicycle journeys account for 10pc of all journeys by 2020, which would amount to 150,000 commuters cycling to work per day.

It is overseen by the Department of Finance and the Revenue Commissioners, who have no official way to gauge overall interest in the scheme.

Employers have no obligation to inform Revenue that they are operating the scheme, which enables them to quickly approve the purchase of the bikes.

According to the Revenue Commissioners, the scheme was designed like that, to keep it "as simple as possible and to reduce administration on the part of employers".

However, a spokesperson for the Department of Finance said it is aware that the scheme has been "hugely successful" since its launch.

Irish Independent

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