When you wheely need a new challenge…

Date posted: 10/06/2019. Author: Mollie Hawes

Since retiring from marathon running in April 2019, I feel a bit lost. So to keep me on the straight and narrow, I’m making the change from two feet to two wheels. However I don’t have a bike and I’m probably in the minority.

Living in London means that I see every type of cyclist ranging from; the Boris biker, the Tour de France wannabe or the courier bikes that weave in and out of standing traffic. I want to see what all the fuss is about and join in, but I need some help.

Enter the cycle to work scheme!

It has been almost 20 years since the government introduced the cycle to work scheme with the aim to encourage employees to make better lifestyle choices. The scheme allows the budding cyclist to spend up to £1,000 on bikes and equipment tax-free (hooray!), and hopefully save money on their wheels overall.

If you’re like me and become easily daunted about what type of bike you need and how you’re going to afford it, then why not investigate the cycle to work scheme at your workplace?

With my employer, it’s an anytime benefit. So when I’m ready, I can just log in to my online benefits portal and opt in. Simple! The money then comes straight out of my monthly salary, allowing me to immediately start saving on tax and NI and get on my bike.

Let’s talk money

For example, if you wanted to spend £1,000 on a bike, this is how it will look in monetary terms (if you’re a basic rate taxpayer):

The money you ‘give up’ monthly

£83.33

Savings per month

£26.66

Savings per year

£320

Total payment towards a £1,000 bike

£680

If your gross salary was £2,000 per month, you would normally pay £640 in combined tax (20%) and NI (12%). With the £83.33 salary you’ve ‘given up’, your monthly tax/NI burden is only £613.34 which means you’re saving £26.66 on tax. Cha-ching! That’s more money in your pocket for fun stuff, in my case, chocolate!

At the end of the hire agreement, employees have the option to own the bike outright, but this will vary between providers, so it’s worth double checking the rules.

My top tips

If you’re unsure of what to do, or where to find information I would suggest the following:

  • Ask a colleague – they might already know how the process works and can talk you through it.
  • Log in to your online benefits platform (if you have one), but if you don’t, ask your HR representative on how to start the process of opting into the scheme.
  • Don’t forget to read the Terms and Conditions of your Hire Agreement – there will be important information in there you need to be mindful of.
  • Practise cycling on the roads – busy traffic can be quite scary so it’s worth going on a cycling course to learn new skills. I’m going to sign up to this one: https://tfl.gov.uk/modes/cycling/cycling-in-london/cycle-skills but see if there any that are local to you.
  • Dress the part – make sure you have a helmet and attach lights to your bike. Safety is key!
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