Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Postive Taxation.

Here is an excellent link to an article on Going Going Bike - it talks about what the Government in Korea is doing to promote cycling as a form of transport, especially commuting. LINK HERE

Whilst all wonderful in itself and a very good way of promoting cycling I think there is a far more fundamental point here and something that is very important in the battle of getting people onto bikes. That is the policy of positive taxation.

One of the main drivers - not really mentioned here before for fear of me looking like a cheapskate - was the "cycle to work" offer set up by the previous Government and still being kept in place by the current one.

Without boring you with too much detail, when I bought my bike (and some extras), by doing it through my company, through the excellent "Cycle to Work" scheme - I was able to save the 20% VAT immediately, I then paid off the balance over the next 12 months (well I still am paying to be more accurate). The money I pay on the loan is taken off my PAYE bill and National insurance. All told I was able to save about 50% of the value of my bike (close to £650). Effectively it costs the Government nothing as I would not have bought the bike in the first place - maybe I would have spent it on things like more food (therefore no VAT anyway). Then there are the long term savings to the Government so often detailed across the web, such as less resources used in NHS (or maybe not with the way I ride). Less road congestion and damage - less overcrowding on trains etc. Either way it was the final push that got me into cycling - without it I may not have done it.

So this is positive taxation - it is rewarding me to do something and the long term cost to Government could actually be a saving anyway. It is really the same argument that is raging over recycling and the use of fines - my opinion is were ever viable use the carrot and not the stick.

Here is an excellent article describing current Government thinking - notice the use of the stick and no carrots.

Now I don't for one minute think the process of paying people to cycle to work will ever happen here - for starters they will reward the contract to SERCO or some other favored Private company who will charge £5 in costs for every £1 paid to the cyclist. Also on top of that there is a large section of people in this country who will work a fraud for this scheme.

So what are the positive taxation schemes that could be used in this country? They need to be a carrot rather than a stick and also workable in delivery.The cycle to work scheme I think is excellent - but I suppose for me, instead of direct positive taxation they could look at using money to create cycling lanes that are usable, or better yet - they could install some real parking options rather than relying on companies to provide them for their workers. If they could install a few of these in the cities of the UK I am sure it would go a very long way to helping people take up biking - and on top of that I am sure if they keep the charges sensible , it would help maintain these cycle parks if not pay for their initial construction.

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