Belgians Offered ‘Mobility Budget’ To Avoid Company Cars
The Belgian government is unveiling a new scheme to encourage commuters to move away from company cars. Under a new law, workers who’ve been driving a company car for more than three years will be offered incentives to surrender diesel motors; including a ‘mobility’ budget, which will can be used to fund public transport options or to acquire an electric alternative.
Like the UK, Belgium has an ongoing problem with air pollution in its major cities. So much so that the European Commission has an infringement against the small state for its sub-par air quality. There are 1.5 million diesel cars on Belgian roads, which is significantly higher than similarly populated countries like the Netherlands and Portugal.
Cities like Brussels and Antwerp have significant parking infrastructure, much of which is free to access to commuters. This has led to higher concentrations of traffic and therefore pollutants which are known to have a detrimental impact on the health of residents. Belgium’s Minister of Public Health, Maggie De Block, said “We want to encourage employees to switch to a more environmentally friendly model in combination with an alternative means of transport such as public transport or bicycle.”
In its announcement, the Belgian government was eager to stress that the incentives included in the scheme will be equal to the value of an employee’s company car. It also highlighted the extent of personalisation being made available, suggesting that drivers will be able to use their Mobility Budget on shared car services, taxi costs, bicycles and even housing fees; providing the employee moves closer to his or her place of work. Any differences that remain in finance will be paid out in cash.
De Block concluded that the Budget would mean “the employer will not pay a cent more and the worker will not receive a cent less. She continued “thanks to this formula we expand the choice.”
Schemes such as the one being rolled out by the Belgians are clearly comprehensive attempts to tackle the growing emissions problem in urban centres. Whilst much of the content is clearly aimed at individuals, and not fleet operators, this isn’t to say that they can’t benefit. Company cars can still be offered to staff members, they now simply have a greater amount of choice in terms of transportation. This could, potentially, free up smaller businesses that don’t find operating a fleet (or at least a growing fleet) to be profitable or convenient.
With the rise of electrical vehicles, and bold government initiatives being rolled out across Europe, we may simply see a change in the make-up of fleets. If employees have access to reliable transport alternatives, the need for providing company cars becomes less pressing. Providing the commute can be tackled punctually and consistently, businesses have little to fear. As for businesses that depend on their fleets, there’s already signs in the UK that companies are swiftly reacting to changing taxation and legislation. Waitrose, for example, now use 58 ‘state-of-the-art’ gas-powered lorries in its fleet. They’ll be using a state-funded bio-methane refuelling station.
The bio-methane station is part of project being supported by the Office for Low Emissions and aims to encourage fleet operators to switch from diesel to renewable bio-methane; which is 85% less polluting and 40% cheaper than diesel. Waitrose expects the initiative will produce lifetime savings of up to £100,000 per vehicle.
For fleet operators, then, the simplest and most effective way of tackling the emissions crisis may simply be increasing the amount of choice being offered to them and employees by both governments and markets.
Autoserve’s Fleet Card costs just £10 a vehicle per month. With over 16,000 approved garages, a 24/7 support service and a host of cost-saving offers, we can keep your fleet moving and operational. Call one of our professional Service Advisers on 0121 521 3500 for more details.