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Fleets need stronger links to Government, expert warns

The fleet industry needs stronger links to Government to avoid a repeat of the current ‘breakdown in communication’ that’s causing confusion among decision-makers, according to mid-term rental specialist, Meridian Vehicle Solutions.

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Meridian is calling for an intermediary enabling the fleet sector to liaise with the Government.

Managing director, Phil Jerome, said the industry had been left in a state of confusion over issues ranging from the future of diesel cars to the new WLTP test regime and Benefit in Kind taxation. He added that a representative forum, liaising with the Government, was needed alongside the established fleet industry bodies to make sure their voices were heard.

“For a long time, we have operated as an industry on very firm, well-signposted legislative foundations and these have failed over the last year or two,” said Jerome. “Clearly, something has gone wrong and It does seem as though there has been a breakdown in communication.

“This is not to denigrate the work of our existing sector organisations, which do an excellent job, but perhaps we need something new that works purely as an advocate of the industry’s concerns and interests.

“There are a wide range of subjects emerging that come under the government’s purview – from autonomous vehicles to clean air policies – and we need to make sure that the voice of fleets is heard.”

The company’s viewpoint is reflected by ongoing decline of the company car sector. HMRC’s latest figures show the number of UK employees taking company cars fell by 20,000 during the last tax year – the result of rising tax burdens. Instead, drivers are increasingly turning to personal contract hire – backed up by latest BVRLA data showing that take-up of PCH continues to erode the fleet market.

But this trend for opting out brings a number of issues, including increased costs and exposure to risk as well as higher CO2 figures as drivers are no longer limited by CO2-based BiK taxation; as shown by the fact that new car CO2 rose for the first time in 20 years in 2017.

These are issues discussed by Fleet World’s campaign to save the company car, which launched just over a month ago, highlights how company cars are cleaner and safer than average cars while also providing a cost-effective tool for both businesses and drivers. This sets out a six-step action plan, is now accompanied by a petition to help drive discussions at Government level.

To sign the Fleet World petition urging the Government to take action on key industry issues, click here.

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.