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To join my company's cycle to work scheme (I also work in HR) to buy a bike for my son

(65 Posts)
Bumblelion Thu 02-Oct-08 20:33:19

I have worked at my company for over 20 years and I deal now exclusively with employee's flexible benefits, i.e. we give employees an amount of money (%) on top of their salary and they can spend it as they wish and I co-ordinate their choice(s).

One of the new benefits that we are offering our employees is that they can buy a bike up to the value of £500 and the company pays the VAT on the bike and it works as a salary sacrifice in that the cost of the bike (excluding VAT) is deducted from your monthly gross pay (i.e. the employee also saves on tax and N.I.).

This is a verified scheme offered by the Inland Revenue.

... well, the company realises that not everyone can buy a bike and use it to ride to work (for example, where I work in London the company does not have facilities to store the bikes) and to that effect the idea is that all employees can buy a bike, whether they ride it to work or not.

... well my son (aged 11) has never been able to ride a bike (is very sporty but has never achieved the balance/co-ordination) but this year when he spent 2 weeks at his dads he learnt to ride a bike (borrowed off a friend).

I told him I would treat him to a bike (not Christmas/birthday present) and now my company offers this scheme.#

Ideally, I should be buying myself a bike to ride to work (whether that be to ride to the office or only to the local train station).

Do you think I am being unreasonable in saving the VAT, my own tax and N.I. in buying a bike that my son can ride.

The reason I am buying him a bike in the 'bike to work' scheme is that he has just started high school and, instead of me driving him every morning (about 5 minutes drive, 25 minutes walk), he will use the bike to get to school so in effect I am doing what the Government offers in that I will not be using my car and it helps my carbon off-setting.

My only concern is how can I explain to my HR department (in which I work) why I would be using a GT Air 2009 (BMX) bike to ride to the station?

Do you think I am cheating the 'system'?

Boysboysboys Thu 02-Oct-08 20:37:00

I bought my bike on a similar scheme.... I went to the nearest bike shop who have sold loads of bikes on the scheme. He was surprised I wanted it for commuting as most people don't, and offered to put a childs bike on top so I could get it on the scheme! So no, YANBU.

AMumInScotland Thu 02-Oct-08 20:39:47

Sorry but yes, I do think that would be cheating. I don't know if your company would care, but if you are paying for it before tax and NI then there could be problems with the taxman because of it. You'd need to check the details of the IR scheme carefully to see if it can be stretched that far.

Dropdeadfred Thu 02-Oct-08 20:41:20

'cycle to work'

is your son going to cycle to work? it is cheating the system but it's up to you to whether you choose to do it

J2O Thu 02-Oct-08 20:47:47

do you really think they will check which bike you have bought? I don't see a problem with it tbh

Bumblelion Thu 02-Oct-08 20:52:24

Dropdeadfred ..

The scheme is called 'ride to work', i.e. not using public transport/own car, etc. but I honestly cannnot ride a bike to work (nor can I ride to my local train station (how I travel to work) as it is only 3 minutes walk from my house) but if my son uses the bike to 'ride to school' rather than I 'ride to work' I am still saving on petrol, emissions, etc.

Kathyis6incheshigh Thu 02-Oct-08 20:53:18

It is cheating the system, and it is dishonest. BUT - it has generally benign consequences, and arguably is in the spirit of the scheme in that it will cut down your driving.
Since you posted in AIBU, I don't think it's an 'unreasonable' thing to do -many people would do the same. But whether you think it's right depends on whether you think the dishonesty is justified by the beneficial consequence - many people would think so, some wouldn't.

SalLikesCoffee Thu 02-Oct-08 20:54:09

Because of your position I would be less likely to do it if I were you tbh. I do realise you can effectively save up to 50% of the cost, but is it really worth blemishing such a long and obviously good career?

I don't think your company would mind (as it won't cost them anything), I don't think HMRC would find out, but internally someone with a grudge might say you're abusing your position.

Bumblelion Thu 02-Oct-08 21:02:36

... SalLikesCoffee...

I am not asking if I am being unreasonable because of my position within the company - if it was not an acceptable form of practice (from the Inland Revenue point of view) surely they wouldn't let employees abuse the system ...

but saying that I feel I am abusing the system ?!?!?!?!?

SalLikesCoffee Thu 02-Oct-08 21:09:10

No sorry, I don't mean you are or that you want to - I think it's fine really. But I'm just thinking someone might say because you're involved with benefits you should do it "by the book". Sorry if it sounded as if I'm being horrible, wasn't the intention.

pointydog Thu 02-Oct-08 21:14:07

yes, you are chaeting the system.

A disciplinary for you, I think

muddleduck Thu 02-Oct-08 21:14:59

This is no different to benefit fraud.

It is a government scheme designed to help people who want to cycle to work. It is not a government scheme to help parents buy their kids bikes.

What would you say if a person with no kids claimed the childcare vouchers?

Marina Thu 02-Oct-08 21:16:58

I'm with Kathy on this. I know your intentions are laudable and unselfish bumblelion, but tbh, this sort of exploitation of employer perks undermines their status as worthwhile schemes and sometimes leads to them being withdrawn.
It is cheating the system really.

Bumblelion Thu 02-Oct-08 21:17:57

No offence taken!

Although I deal with benefits (eye care, dental care, private medical insurance (Bupa), life assurance, long term disability, pensions, etc.) I am not directly involved with Payroll and the Inland Revenue.

I just feel that others will take advantage of the 'scheme' and why shouldn't I, just because I deal with 'benefits'.

... but when I ask if I am being unreasonable, perhaps deep down, in my conscience, I feel that I am because I should be doing it by the book, even though most of the other employees are not.

hannahsaunt Thu 02-Oct-08 21:18:36

You would be turned away at the door by our local bike shop through which our cycle to work scheme was operated. It had to be specifically for the employee.

hannahsaunt Thu 02-Oct-08 21:19:50

Should clarify - they wouldn't sell you a bike that wasn't fitted to you so if you pitched up with your son in tow to pick one and have it fit him then they would have not sold it under the scheme.

Lowfat Thu 02-Oct-08 21:20:25

Actually it is a governement scheme to get people fit and active and take a few cars off the road.

And if Bumblelion were to 'share' the bike with her son, so that she did'nt have to drive him school and he could get more exercise then it ticks those boxes.

However I do first think perhaps you should speak 'off the record' with an HR colleague because if your company are sticklers for rules you could find yourself in hot water!

Bumblelion Thu 02-Oct-08 21:25:34

I see that this message has grown since I posted my last message.

It is quite good to receive other people's opinions, even though they don't know me and I don't know them.

Regarding childcare vouchers, for me, it was not a viable option because the amount I receive in working tax credit (which helps towards my childcare, as it was then - I no longer need 'childcare') I would NOT claim childcare vouchers because what I receive in WTC more than compensated for my childcare.

I believe that everyone will 'cheat' (I hate that word) the system to their own benefit.

I have Directors/Associates working for my company on £80k+ and they claim childcare vouchers (up to the maximum allowed) because they are saving money.

I work full (part time) - 30 hours a week - but I receive WTC because I have 3 children and one is registered disabled.

I see the Directors/Associates of the company 'fleecing' the system and, actually, I do not feel bad that I am saving the vat (on £230) and saving on my own tax and NI to buy a bike, that actually my company sanctions because they cannot discriminate between those who can ride to work and whose who cannot.

muddleduck Thu 02-Oct-08 21:27:52

I just don't get why people think this is ok.

That said, I'm sure you can get away with it. The shop I used to buy my CTW bike made it clear that they were not botherered about what I used the money for. They issued me with a very general receipt so my employers have no idea what type of bike I spent the money on.

muddleduck Thu 02-Oct-08 21:30:37

x posts

fine. go ahead.

I don't think that it's ok to cheat the system just because others do it, but each to their own,


AMumInScotland Thu 02-Oct-08 21:32:41

Feel free to justify it to yourself any way you like. It's still not actually right though!

Marina Thu 02-Oct-08 21:35:32

Just because everyone else is doing it...and there is a difference between rich directors claiming childcare vouchers (which is annoying but within the scope of the scheme) and using an employee bike scheme to buy a bike for your son.
Lots of wrongs don't make a right!

Bumblelion Thu 02-Oct-08 21:35:35

Hannahsaunt ...

So why did I get a phone call from our cycle supplier (Cycles Solutions, via Wheelies) confirming my bike order (did write specific bike order here but, in case any of you contact Cycle Solutions, deleted my specific order and you don't know the company I work for anyway) and am now awaiting delivery of said bike.

The bike I have ordered is a BMX, surely not a bike that a 40 year old mum of 3 would ride to work!

My company placed the order, the supplier is supplying the bike ... so surely no come-back on me!

If anyone asks, actually I am saving on petrol in driving my son to school and surely it will make him more active and less likely to need NHS treatment in the future (which I pay for anyway because I work and pay my NI).

I feel I am too late to be saved (get fit) but surely if I can help my children not be a drain on the NHS (because I bought him a bike and therefore he is 'fit' - although he is anyway),

AMumInScotland Thu 02-Oct-08 21:39:22

hmm If you've already placed the order, why are you asking us for opinions? You've clearly decided that it doesn't bother your conscience already.

MascaraOHara Thu 02-Oct-08 21:39:30

Now I have aslightly different take. we haev this scheme..

the scheme gives you money to buy a bike (any bike) it doesn't specifiy that the bike has to be for yourself.. you just have to cycle to work.

just like a car allowance.. it doesn't mean you haev to spend it on a car. iykwim.

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