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Practices such as Feilden Clegg Bradley and PRP are taking advantage of a government initiative to encourage cycling to work; it is not aimed at leisure use. Discounts include bikes and accessories such as helmets, lights and locks. (You are normally responsible for insurance and maintenance. ) The government funds the scheme through a favourable tax regime. The bike is initially bought by the employer, which can reclaim the VAT. The employer could loan you the bike. If the employer wants to recoup the cost, this is often done through 'salary sacrifice'. Technically you give up the right to that amount of your salary; but then no tax or national insurance is payable. The net effect is that a standard taxpayer saves about 42 per cent compared with buying out of taxed income; a higher-rate taxpayer saves nearly 50 per cent. This is NOT hire-purchase - if it were the tax benefits would disappear.

Salary sacrifice may be over one-three years, and you can probably buy the bike at the end of the period for a small sum. PRP uses the Cycle2Work scheme run by LloydsTSB and Halfords, who take on some of the management of PRP's scheme (ie provide outsourcing).

For the Cycle to Work scheme visit www. dft. gov. uk, then click 'Sustainable Travel', then 'Cycling'.

Cycle2Work by LloydsTSB/Halfords is at www. bringme. co. uk then click 'About Bringme' then 'Cycle2Work.'

To find cycle routes try Sustrans at www. sustrans. org. uk

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