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Case Study: How one NHS Trust slashed grey fleet mileage

With entries now open for this year’s Energy Saving Trust Fleet Heroes awards, we take a look back at the innovations that earned last year’s winners top honours.

Black and white image of row of cars

The EST and BVRLA estimate 624m miles are driven each year by NHS employees in private cars, costing £317m

Norfolk Community Health & Care NHS Trust (NCH&C) serves nearly 90,000 people and provides care to patients in their homes, places of care, community hospitals, outpatient units and health centres.

At the 2017 Fleet Hero Awards, the Trust won the Smarter Travel award in recognition of its excellent progress on reducing grey fleet mileage.

Process

Ensuring effective travel decisions

The Trust first implemented a travel policy in 2013, following negotiations with unions and a full staff consultation.

The Travel Policy encourages employees to use a lease car (company car) if they drive more than 3,500 business miles each year, and to join the pool and rental car scheme if they do not. Employees complete an annual Travel Assessment Form which allows the Travel Office to verify an employee’s choice is appropriate, given their mileage.

When planning journeys, employees use a travel hierarchy which promotes pool bikes, public transport, pool cars (for journeys under 70 miles) and rental cars (for journeys over 70 miles), with private vehicles again the last resort.

As of August 2018, the Trust had 32 pool cars (some specialist, some leased from Enterprise), 77 lease cars (company cars) and 33 salary sacrifice cars, 1 car share (yourdrive), plus daily rentals as required.

Maximising pool car use

NCH&C works closely with its contractor, Enterprise Car Club, to ensure pool cars are used efficiently. A telematics system records an accurate mileage for each driver and compares how long a car has been booked for against the time the car is actually used.

This identifies employees who book but do not use the pool cars, and where a different travel choice would have been more appropriate. The Trust was one of the first to launch this type of telematics scheme with a large number of pool cars.

Grey Fleet Mileage

To further discourage grey fleet use, mileage is carefully monitored. An online system, Mileage Count, is used to approve and pay grey fleet mileages, at different rates:

  • If the employee travels fewer than 3,500 miles, the rate is 28p a mile, lower than the HMRC approved rate of 45p per mile but compliant with Agenda for Change terms and conditions.
  • If an employee travels over 3,500 miles (and declined a lease car), they are paid at 56p a mile for the first 3,500 miles and 20p thereafter.

The system requires postcodes and a reason for each journey which builds a better understanding of the nature of grey fleet travel and reduces claim ‘inflation’ (i.e. rounding up to the nearest 10 miles).

In 2018, monitoring grey fleet mileage has been enhanced by an expense system (e-Expense) which integrates with the Trust’s HR and payroll system (ESR). This allows more automation, reducing costs, and gathers additional information, such as passenger names when claiming passenger mileage.

The new system will tighten compliance and audit controls, and include ‘shortest route calculations’ with a map for staff to use. The system has delivered savings of around £40k and provides better data, more control and an improved user experience.

Finally, the Trust uses GMP DriverCare for licence and vehicle checks, ensuring the Trust fulfils their duty of care and complies with the Health & Safety at Work and Corporate Manslaughter Acts.

Results

Implementing the Travel Policy saved the Trust £500,000 in its first two years, reduced carbon emissions and improved risk management.

The fall in grey fleet mileage has far exceeded the increased in mileage in lease, pool cars and rental cars. Fewer miles are now being driven by employees, and where journeys are undertaken, they are more likely to be in newer, less polluting, well-managed vehicles. On average, staff mileages have fallen by 25%, without compromising patient care or service delivery.

Between 2015/16 and 2016/17 (latest available figures):

  • grey fleet mileage fell by 19% (752,000 fewer miles driven)
  • miles driven in company cars have increased by 42% (202,000 more miles)
  • miles driven in pool cars and daily hire has decreased by 19% (73,000 fewer miles)
  • total mileage decreased by 13% (623,000 fewer miles)
  • total spend on travel fell by 13%.

Since 2007/08, total annual mileage has fallen by 44%. Grey fleet mileage alone has fallen from over 5 million miles to 3 million miles.

Be a Fleet Hero:

Taking place on 27th November, The Fleet Heroes Awards seeks to recognise the organisations delivering cleaner, more efficient fleets through innovation, technology and fresh approaches to transporting people and goods.

To enter, submit your application via http://fleetheroes.org.uk/enter-now before 1 October.

For more of the latest industry news, click here.

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Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for 16 years, previously as assistant editor on the former Company Car magazine before joining Fleet World in 2006. Prior to this, she worked on a range of B2B titles, including Insurance Age and Insurance Day. As Business Editor, Natalie ensures the group websites and newsletters are updated with the latest news.